General Atomics, the company that makes the Predator drone, will begin selling unarmed versions of the unmanned aerial vehicle to countries in the Middle East, the company announced Monday at the Paris Air Show.
In an interview with Military.com, Christopher Ames, director of international strategic development for the company, said the Predator XP will be sold to the United Arab Emirates. The Predator XP will be unarmed, but will have radar and cameras to give countries intelligence and surveillance capabilities.
"It opens up a whole range of new markets that had been previously closed," Ames told Military.com. "Allies and coalition members were saying, 'When do we get our Predator?'"
Since introducing the Predator in 1994, the $4.3 million drone has become a workhorse for the CIA and the Air Force – armed versions are primarily used for drone strikes overseas. Unarmed versions of the Predator are used for surveillance along the Canadian and Mexican borders.
But as sequestration has hit the U.S., the company needs to expand its market in order to remain relevant, Ames said.
"There may be a dip on the U.S. side, but there may be a commensurate rise on the international side," he said.