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10 novembre 2011 4 10 /11 /novembre /2011 06:55


Photo: Lockheed Martin


Nov 9, 2011 By Jen DiMascio - aerospace daily and defense report


The Obama administration is proposing export control changes that would allow aircraft components to be more freely traded on the global market, while continuing to protect parts designed specifically for the military’s most stealthy aircraft.


The move would modify the U.S. Munitions List for what is known as “Category VIII,” which covers aircraft. The change would free up generic parts, components, accessories and attachments for export “regardless of their significance to maintaining a military advantage for the United States,” according to a Nov. 7 notice in the federal register. Those parts would be transferred from the State Department-managed munitions list to a list governed by the Commerce Department.


But the proposed rule does exempt parts “specifically designed” for certain aircraft with stealth technology, including the B-1B bomber, the B-2, the F-15 Silent Eagle, the F/A-18 E/F/G, the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-117 Nighthawk. The exemption also includes U.S. technology demonstrators.


The change is part of the Obama administration’s overarching export control strategy outlined in early 2010 by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The initiative is led by the National Security Council with contributions from a team of about 150 people at the departments of commerce, defense and state in consultation with Congress, and includes a President’s Export Council.


The idea is to rid the munitions list of components and parts that have no special military design and move some items with military and civilian uses to a dual list governed by the Commerce Department that will still be monitored.


The proposal would provide welcome relief to the U.S. defense industry, according to Remy Nathan of the Aerospace Industries Association. Rather than focusing on an enormous number of nuts, bolts, screws and hoses that are currently regulated by International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the government could zero in on the more sensitive, more-important-to-regulate items, Nathan says.


And if the process has seemed, from the outside, to be laborious, that’s because each item needs to be sorted with care.


The current munitions list is open-ended. “It’s easy from that perspective to say everything’s on the ITAR unless we say it’s not,” Nathan says, which has put the onus on the manufacturer to make a case for exempting a certain part and bogged down State Department officials who had to sign off on paperwork for items that were destined for approval.


“You’re not changing ‘no’ to ‘yes,’” says Nathan. “It’s that the process of getting a ‘yes’ is easier, cheaper and faster.”


For the next 45 days, the administration is collecting comments about the proposed rule. The administration previously published changes to the Category VII list for military vehicles, which is now being revised.

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