Unmanned aerial warfare: Flight of the drones

17 Oct 2011 Sandeep Mehta

The Economist has an interesting article Unmanned aerial warfare: Flight of the drones.  In addition to providing an overview of the market, it provides lots of interesting statistics and graphics that will be very useful.  To kick it off, the article says:

Over the past decade UAS have become the counter-terrorism weapon of choice. Since 2005 there has been a 1,200% increase in combat air patrols by UAVs.

A suprising statistic for me was the number of people involved in keeping each Reaper UAV flying (I am not sure how they arrive at that information. Sounds a bit too high)

There may not be a man in the cockpit, but each Reaper, a bigger, deadlier version of the Predator, requires more than 180 people to keep it flying. A pilot is always at the controls (albeit from a base that might be 7,500 miles, or 12,000km, away); and another officer operates its sensors and cameras.

Here is the market size and forecast:

It is amazing that US is by far the largest market much larger than the rest of the world put together!  I wonder how the competitive landscape is going to change in the time of austerity.  Another key concern is new innovations or breakthrough technology such as artificial intelligence that may change the landscape completely.

The article is an interesting read. Please check it out.

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