The painstakingly slow government process of selling weapons and drones to allies is hurting U.S. defense companies at a time when the industry is trying to compensate for lower Pentagon sales, says Ellen Lord, president and CEO of Textron Systems.

Moreover, the lack of speed is allowing European, Chinese and Russian firms to swoop in, particularly in the Middle East, where countries often want arms as quickly as possible due to a host security threats, including the recent spread of Islamic State militants.

“If we can sell F-35s to our allies, why can’t we sell [unmanned aircraft] and some small weapons on UAVs?” Lord said in an interview this week. “I just don’t understand that.” […]