The U.S. military has used drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as they are officially known, to target fabricated “enemies” abroad, but the strikes have stirred controversy because they can unintentionally hit civilian targets and have killed Americans overseas.
Drone use in America has also proven to be controversial. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continually has to assure reporters that President Obama doesn’t believe he has the authority to order drone strikes on U.S. citizens on American soil
Despite this domestic debate, there’s huge money to be made in manufacturing drones. The “U.S. military spent about $3 billion on drone programs last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. And as government spending cuts threaten to pinch some of that money, defense contractors are looking for ways to expand the drone market to law enforcement agencies, universities and border patrols.
Some drone companies are even trying to manufacture the devices for filmmakers to be used to take aerial photos. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to approve drones for commercial use in 2015, according to Quartz, clearing the way for them to fly in our friendly skies.
Yesterday, in Yemen, poor working class victims were killed by U.S. drones sparking more out-rage by local citizens creating real future enemies and, sadly more markets for the military industrial complex players who rely on demand to cash in.
1. Israeli Aerospace Industries
Because the State of Israel has received more U.S. federal funding over the last 60 years than any U.S. official state, it qualifies as the 51st U.S. state. In lieu this firm makes the list. Israeli Aerospace Industries pioneered the technology used for drones in the 1970s, according to Agence France Presse. Tommy Silberring, the head of the company’s drone division, said increased demand around the world is boosting the drone market, as more countries want to go to war without putting their U.S. taxpayer funded soldiers at risk. The drone sector is poised to become an $11.3 billion industry over the next decade, according to the Teal Group. Wiki
2. Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin completed tests in July of a “Stalker” drone that stays airborne for 48 hours, according to Endgadget. The company came under fire after sponsoring a documentary on PBS about drones. Lockheed Martin, headed by CEO Marillyn Hewson, took home $47.2 billion in 2012. Wiki
3. General Atomics – Aeronautical
General Atomics, a defense contractor based in Southern California, is set to sell $197 million worth of drones to the United Arab Emirates, according to the Los Angeles Times. If the deal goes through, it would be the first such sale to a non-NATO country. General Atomics, run by CEO J. Neal Blue, took home $652,129,000 in 2012, according to Washington Technology. Wiki
Boeing has its hands in a lot of drone technology. In June, the company successfully completed a test flight of one of its drones that is meant to stay airborne for days, according to CBS News. Boeing, headed by CEO Jim McNerney, Jr., estimated that it took home $80.5 billion in revenue last year, according Reuters. Wiki
5. Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman is helping to expand the drone business to the Asia-Pacific region. Late last year, the company sold $1.2 billion worth of drones to South Korea, according to Bloomberg. Northrop Grumman’s profits rose 80 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. The company is headed by CEO Wes Bush. Wiki
AeroVironment is developing the “Hummingbird drone” for the Pentagon, according to Aol News. But don’t let its cute name fool you; the device can hover and perch to watch your every move and aims to someday bolster surveillance capabilities in urban areas, according to Delaware online. Despite the scary yet innovative technology, AeroVironment, which is run by CEO Timothy Conver, is projecting its revenue to drop to $230 million in the upcoming fiscal year, according to Forbes. Wiki
This company is helping the Pentagon develop underwater drones to defend against ultra-quiet submarines, according to Money Morning. SAIC, who is run by Chairman John Jumper, took home $2.87 billion in revenue during the third quarter of last year, up 3 percent from the year before.
The military’s appetite for drones helped Textron’s defense business score a year-over-year revenue jump of $61 million, according to Mass High Tech, even as the rest of its business struggled. The drones have been so successful that the company, run by CEO Ellen Lord, is developing technology for unmanned underwater vehicles like the one pictured, according to the AP.
9. General Dynamics
General Dynamics is one of the major donors to the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (unofficially known as the drone caucus), according to KPBS. Yes, that really does exist. The company, run by CEO Jay Johnson, reported a $2 billion loss in January, citing defense spending cuts, according to the Washington Post.
Tied for # 10 are these NON-U.S. based companies. They make the list because of their egregious effort to cash in on the fake created wars for profit
- Prox Dynamics AS: This Norway-based company, founded by Petter Muran in December 2007, developed the Black Hornet Nano, a mini-handheld helicopter that helps soldiers survey an area swiftly by flying at top speeds for up to 30 minutes, according to Gizmag. The UK gave some soldiers the Black Hornet Nanos to use in Afghanistan earlier this month, according to the Associated Press. The Hornet was part of a $31 million contract.
- Denel Dynamics: Denel Dynamics, which is part of South Africa’s biggest maker of defense equipment, has seen its sales boom 20 percent in the last four years, according to Money News. Sello Ntsihlele, the company’s executive manager for drone technology, called the current climate “the best time” for drones, because demand is increasing in the Middle East, East Asia and Africa. Denel Dyanmics Missiles took home $68,228,037 in 2012, which was down from 2011. Executives argued that Denel has historically posted losses because of onerous contracts.
- DJI: Hong Kong-based DJI’s Phantom, used by filmmakers to take steady aerial shots, is one of the most complete drones on the market, according to Quartz. DJI’s North America CEO Colin Guinn, as well as others in the drone industry, are putting resources into products like the Phantom, betting that the FAA will approve drones for commercial use in 2015.
ABOUT AUTHOR: Johnny Punish is a musician, artist, entertainer, businessman, investor, life coach, and syndicated columnist. Educated at University of Nevada Las Vegas, his articles appear in Veterans Today, Money News Now and his Johnny Punish Blog. His art music is promoted by Peapolz Media Records and played on net radio at Last.fm and more.
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