Commentary: Was tough talk on South China Sea to boost US export of drones to Southeast Asia?

KUALA LUMPUR: The recent announcement by the United States that several Southeast Asian partner nations will receive unmanned surveillance drones has garnered some interest, particularly given the deterioration in relations between the US and China over security and trade issues. 

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced last week that Insitu Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of aerospace giant Boeing, had been awarded a US$47 million contract for 34 ScanEagle drones to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. 

The US government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract also provides for support to recipients, which includes spare payloads, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools, training, technical services, and field service representatives,

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