The Pentagon’s enthusiasm for drones has never been greater.
A new report published today by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard University found that in the president’s new budget request, the Department of Defense is asking for three times as many uncrewed vehicles for 2019 as it did in 2018.
That’s 3,447 new drones, to be exact, but don’t expect the skies to go dark with Reapers anytime soon. Despite the numbers requested, the drone budget itself is up by only 26 percent. The Pentagon isn’t just buying more drones, it’s acquiring a whole range of new systems, for everything from undersea surveillance to cheap scouting quadcopters to lasers designed to shoot down the cheap quadcopters of adversaries. The drone century is only just beginning.
“This is the biggest we’ve seen in years that we’ve tracked it,” said Dan Gettinger. Gettinger is co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone, and its report on drone spending, published today, tracked everything unmanned in the Pentagon budget, as the center has done since 2013. This year, adding up programs across services, the Center found that the Pentagon is asking for $9.39 billion in drone spending. “We’ve seen budget hover in the 4-6 billion annual range since fiscal year 2013,” Gettinger said.“A budget for just over 9 billion for unmanned systems, that’s a pretty substantial increase.”