Up to 1,000 military helicopters could be at the disposal of the US military, a new report says.
According to the military, the Department of Defense is “looking into” the possibility of putting some of its drones up for auction.
The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly considering the same idea, and according to a source close to the DHS, it is working with the Air Force on a similar plan.
A spokesperson for the US Air Force declined to comment.
The idea of selling off some of the unmanned aerial vehicles, which are known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), is controversial.
“It’s just a matter of what we want to do with them,” Air Force Lt.
Col. Michael Muellner told Reuters.
Military helicopters have been used to carry out military operations since the 1960s, but the unmanned systems have become more complex and have become increasingly vulnerable.
Last year, the US government approved the purchase of 20 of these vehicles, and the Department is now looking to buy another 30.
It is unclear whether the US would be allowed to sell these aircraft, but in the past, US government and military officials have expressed concerns that the US could be involved in a “catastrophic event” if the military was allowed to take control of these drones.
The proposed sale of some of these unmanned aircraft would be in line with what the military is doing with other unmanned aerial platforms.
In 2015, the government sold the Predator, Reaper, and Reaper unmanned aircraft to Saudi Arabia for $7 billion.
And in 2016, the Pentagon bought four Black Hawk helicopters for $5.7 billion from the United Arab Emirates.
While the Pentagon is considering selling off these aircraft to other countries, some have argued that the sale of the drones could be detrimental to national security.
Critics argue that the use of these aircraft could allow countries like China and North Korea to steal technology and spy on US interests.
One source close in the Department said the sale could have a “huge impact on national security”.
“This is just a part of the program,” the source said.
But it is unclear if this proposal would affect the sale price for some of those military helicopters.
The US military has been increasingly moving towards unmanned aerial capabilities since the beginning of the Iraq War, and in 2016 the US Congress approved a $1.3 trillion plan to modernise the armed forces.
Some US defence officials are concerned about how the program will affect the country’s ability to fight its enemies.
Former US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter, who oversaw the procurement of the helicopters, told the House Armed Services Committee in 2015 that the program could potentially lead to a “military defeat in the middle of a conflict”.
“We don’t want to have to be doing the sort of work that we were doing during the Vietnam War when we had this ability to have these small aircraft fly over enemy territory,” he said.