First Posted: Feb 13, 2014 08:15 PM EST

Spain’s National Institute of Aerospace Technology agreed to transfer drone technology to Brazil on Thursday, giving Brazil the opportunity to market the drones to South American countries interested in using the unmanned systems.

Brazil is quickly becoming one of the most important countries in Latin America when it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly called drones. With the agreement with Spain’s aerospace agency for the transfer of technology to produce Diana-type UAVs, which are a kind of target drone, Brazil has the rights to yet another drone in its arsenal — both military and manufacturing.

The agreement with Spain will allow Brazil to market the UAVs in South America to countries interested in using them in their defense programs, through an exclusive license for the production and commercial capitalization of the Diana drone technology, according to a report from Prensa Latina. The deal includes two fully functional drones with remote ground control apparatuses along with the license.

Brazil: Drone Powerhouse

Brazil has been leading the use, production and development of drone technology in South America for decades, with its military first beginning experiments with UAVs in the early 1980s,according to the Council of the Americas. In 2010, Brazil’sgovernment spent more than $350 million on 14 Heron UAVs bought from Israel for border security and surveillance of the Amazon — later being credited by neighboring Bolivia for helping detect 240 drug labs along the border between the two countries. Brazilian authorities also used drones for surveillance during the Rio+20 conference in 2012 and the Confederations Cup in 2013, with further plans to use unmanned planes for security and surveillance during the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016.

In recent years, along with military applications, Brazil has encouraged a boom in drone production for the military programs of other Latin American countries, along with commercial production of UAVs for applications like surveying farmland, environmental surveillance, and oil platform monitoring. Private companies like Bio TI, AGX, XMobots, Santos Lab, and Embraer, the world’s fourth largest aircraft maker, have all begun to produce drones in Brazil for various applications. And while Brazil’s aviation authorities officially do not allow personal drone use in urban areas, they’re pretty popular, given how many YouTube videos feature areal drone shots of Rio.

In rural Brazil as well, many Brazilian farmers are using drones to cut costs and improve crop yields by remotely monitoring crop production from above.

Unlike the U.S., which has used military drones for active hostilities in various parts of the world with its assassination program, Brazil has mostly been interested in controlling its borders, identifying drug producers and smugglers, and growing its global economy through drone technology.

However, that doesn’t keep critics from voicing concerns about Brazil’s drone use, especially in Rio during big international events to possibly monitor and control the slums. Authorities have recently stepped back from plans to fly drones over Rio’s favelas during the World Cup and Summer Olympics, citing the urban no-fly rules, but drones may still end up being a part of Rio’s controversial “pacification” strategy to prevent riots during the next big event.