When nine members of a Shiite militia battling the Islamic State in Northern Iraq were mistakenly killed by an Iraqi errant drone strike in January, the world was surprised the Iraqi military operated drones at all — much less machines capable of striking targets on the ground.
What was even more disconcerting was the fact that the Iraqi drones were made in China, a country filling a void created by the U.S. that's rapidly becoming a multi-billion dollar global market.
The world's largest economy has agreed to export its much publicized armed-drone technology to only two allies, the United Kingdom and Italy — the latter only late last year. It's even rebuffed Jordan's requests for U.S. military drones to defend against ISIS on its border. Discerning for reasons both strategic and regulatory, the U.S. has held its military drone technology close, and its armed-drone technology closer still.