A key role for US “diplomats” is to hawk Lockheed Martin and Raytheon products to dependents abroad, and unlike on US TV negative ads are welcome:
A top State Department official mocked Chinese and Russian international arms sales today, calling deals the American rivals make around the globe as being rife with “failed systems, flawed training, false bargains.”
Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political military affairs, wrapped his criticism around a pitch to Buy American, rolling out a series of biting examples of second-rate Chinese gear sold to African and Middle Eastern countries, two regions where Beijing has made inroads that have deeply concerned Washington.
“It is important countries around the world understand the risks of choosing to procure systems from China or from Russia,” Cooper added
He began by pointing to four Chinese-made Harbin Z-9 helicopters purchased by Cameroon in 2015, one of which crashed soon after purchase. [American rotary wings never crash.] Similarly, Kenya bought a handful of Chinese-made Norinco VN4 armored personnel carriers, “vehicles that China’s own sales representative declined to sit inside during a test firing,” [Perhaps Kenya performs test firings that are more realistic than Pentagon’s rigged tests for the Bradley.] he claimed. “Since going ahead with the purchase regardless, sadly dozens of Kenyan personnel have been reportedly killed in those vehicles,” [No people ever get blown up in American-made vehicles.] Cooper said, adding “caveat emptor!”
He also slammed Chinese CH-4 armed drones, which various countries in the Middle East have found “to be inoperable within months, and are now turning around to get rid of them… We have seen countries around the world leap at the chance to obtain high-tech, low-cost defensive capabilities only to see their significant investments crumble and rust in their hands,” Cooper said.
The words of the Assistant Secretary might sound more persuasive if several months after a Congressionally-mandated Pentagon ban on the use of Chinese-made drones, the US Special Forces didn’t go out and buy more of them:
The Air Force and the Navy bought Chinese-manufactured drones for elite forces months after the Pentagon prohibited their use due to cybersecurity concerns, according to government documents.
In each case, the services used special exemptions granted by the Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment office “on a case by case basis, to support urgent needs,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews told VOA.
The Department of Defense issued a ban on the purchase and use of all commercial off-the-shelf drones, citing “cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” in a memo from then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan dated May 23, 2018.
The ban came nearly a year after the U.S. Army, the Department of Homeland Security and members of Congress warned that drone-market-leader Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) could be helping the Chinese government spy on the United States.
“We know that a lot of the information is sent back to China from those, so it is not something that we can use,” Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, told reporters at the Pentagon last month.
However, purchase orders completed in August and November 2018 show that the Navy spent nearly $190,000 and the Air Force spent nearly $50,000 on drones made by DJI.
The Air Force bought 35 DJI Mavic Pro Platinum drones, and the Navy bought an undisclosed number of drones from DJI’s “Inspire” series.
SPECIAL FORCES AT RISK?
The 2018 drone purchase orders obtained by VOA via public records appear to be for some of the military’s most sensitive and secretive operators, including the Air Force’s only special tactics wing and Navy Sea Air Land (SEAL) teams.
Maybe one of these days the US military-industrial complex will find a way to build these drones that US Special Forces can’t perform their missions without? Since they are so crappy what’s the hold up anyway?
The military’s use of waivers and work-arounds comes as the Pentagon seeks to recruit investors into manufacturing American-made small drones to provide an alternative to the Chinese models.
A new Pentagon project dubbed the “Trusted Capital Marketplace” (TCM) involves hosting a series of DOD job fairs in various tech-heavy cities to meet with private capital investors in order to encourage American investment in the defense industry. The first fair is set for October.
The Pentagon is hoping a new American drone industry partnership can eventually build something complex enough for the Pentagon but agile enough to be purchased in stores.