The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) executive committee urged the Senate to approve the U.S./U.K. Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty that would ease controls on trade in defense technology goods between the two nations.

That treaty would provide for reducing barriers to the exchange of defense goods, services, and information between American and British interests, according to the U.S. State Department.

“The agreement will strengthen the important and unique strategic relationship between the U.S. and [United Kingdom] – our largest defense trading partner – as we confront the security challenges of today and tomorrow,” said John Douglass, AIA president and CEO.

“Facilitating defense trade and technology cooperation with our closest friends and allies is critical to assuring our national security and furthering our country’s foreign policy interests,” the AIA committee said in a statement.

“By making it easier to construct and execute strategic partnerships, the treaty will help the aerospace and defense industry better support our war-fighters with the best technology for the best price,” the panel asserted. “It is a good first step on the road to a more comprehensive reform of export controls.”

Douglass said AIA would continue to engage and support the treaty as the two nations develop related implementing arrangements.

President Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair signed the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty on June 26, a pact that will enable U.S. and U.K. defense establishments to achieve fully interoperable forces and to leverage the strength of their defense industries, according to the State Department.

This will improve interoperability of equipment and systems between armed forces of the two nations.

“By removing barriers to communication and collaboration between our armed forces and our defense industries, we will be in the best position to counter … threats” such as those posed by improvised explosive devices, or roadside mines, according to the State Department.

The treaty would permit the export of certain U.S. defense articles and services to the U.K. government and select British companies that meet specific requirements, without U.S. export licenses or other prior approvals, according to State.

That pact also would ensure continuation of the British policy of not requiring a license for the export of U.K. defense articles and services to the United States.

The Treaty will create an approved community of the two governments and selected defense companies. Most U.S. defense articles will be eligible to be exported into and within this community without prior U.S. government licenses or other authorizations as long as the exports are in support of:

  • Combined U.S.-U.K. military or counterterrorism operations
  • Joint U.S.-U.K. cooperative security and defense research, development, production, and support programs
  • Specific security and defense projects that are for U.K. government use only
  • U.S. government end-use

The State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls reviewed more than 70,000 cases in 2006. By removing the need to review licenses for exports to the United Kingdom in support of joint operations and U.K. Ministry of Defense programs, this treaty will allow the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to redirect some of its resources elsewhere, according to State.