US Allows Italy, Close NATO Ally to Arm Drones

Key Highlights

  • The US State Department early November, 2015 approved a request from Italy to arm its two MQ-9 Reaper drones.
  • Italy has been asking for permission to arm the drones since 2012.
  • The approval comes amid boiling hatred between the US and her ally against Russia over the latter’s increased airstrikes in Syria.
  • Italy said this could support NATO and coalition operations, increase operational flexibility, and better protect deployed Italian forces.
  • Italy would be only the second country to be approved to buy armed drones after Britain, which has been using them since 2007.

Summary and Analysis

According to OSINT summaries, the US has downplayed Italy’s request to arm its drones for close to four years.

Italy has been asking the United States since 2012 to add weapons to two unarmed MQ-9 Reapers, whose sale was first approved in 2009.

Italy has long wanted to arm its MQ-9 Reapers with Hellfire missiles, laser-guided bombs and other munitions, though the request has not been as of toward the end of October 2015 been considered.

The approval interestingly coincides with the boiling hatred between the US and her ally against Russia over the latter’s increased airstrikes in Syria.

Analysts have linked the latest US move to the ongoing conflicting operations in Syria, between US and her allies and Russian intervention on the other end.

The sale was ultimately approved because Italy was a key ally and partner of the United States. Some officials of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency speaking on conditions of anonymity revealed that Italy has been significant in the recent NATO and US led operation.

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