The U.S.’s future ability to streamline export control initiatives will be essential to the timely equipping of its allies for the long term, according to the Air Force chief of staff.

Gen. Norton Schwartz told an audience recently in downtown Washington at the Atlantic Council that foreign military sales statutes and political will on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch make it difficult for the United States to equip partnering nations for the long term with important equipment such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“The foreign military sales statutes…and division of labor amongst the departments in the executive branch, as well as the jurisdictions on Capitol Hill, are complex and certainly make it more challenging for us to equip others quickly, rapidly, expeditiously and to get decisions on releaseability and export control,” Schwartz said. The future of the Air Force and prospects for partnership and international cooperation was the topic of the recent presentation.

“I think that is one of the areas where there is still productive work left to do in terms of improving our export control regime and its administration,” Schwartz later added.

Schwartz said reforming export control and foreign military sales statutes would “facilitate equipping our partners with equipment to ensure interoperability for 30 years or more, including the Joint Strike Fighter or remotely piloted aircraft, or other such equipment that has the promise of bringing nations together.”

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is being developed by Lockheed Martin [LMT].

The White House unveiled proposals in November to make it easier for U.S. companies to export some military aircraft equipment. The two connected proposals would move some items listed under Category VIII of the State Department’s U.S. Munitions List (USML)–the category covering aircraft and related articles–to the Commerce Department’s more-flexible Commerce Control List (CCL). The administration in July, as part of its multi-pronged export-control-reform initiative, unveiled its plans for moving items in Category VII of the USML–which includes tanks and military vehicles–to the CCL.

Industry executives have also called on the U.S. to speed up export control reforms. Northrop Grumman [NOC] CEO Wes Bush warned in August that the U.S.’ unmanned aerial system industry could lose its dominance like its domestic satellite makers because of U.S. law forbidding it from exporting to allies.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates called in early 2010 for an overhaul of Cold War-era rules on exports that would consolidate and streamline regulations for selling sensitive U.S. technology abroad, but skepticism among congressional lawmakers that such technology could end up in the hands of unfavorable nations like China have slowed down that effort.