Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), continue to be the most dynamic growth sector of the global aerospace industry this decade, affirm analysts at Teal Group. In fact, unmanned vehicles (robots) of virtually all types are growing in functionality and popularity, in all corners of the world.
“The increasing demand for UAVs in the Middle East, evolving threat in the region, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) budget have pushed U.S. original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to look for UAV opportunities in the Middle East,” explains Mahendran Arjunraja, senior research analyst of aerospace, defence & security at Frost & Sullivan.
U.S.-based military and aerospace (mil/aero) companies, including major prime contractors to the DoD, are increasingly forging ties with partners in the Middle East to take advantage of these opportunities, in fact.
Boeing this year announced a deal with Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (ADASI) in the UAE to address the growing Middle Eastern market for UAS. According to the agreement, ADASI will provide training, support, and marketing services and Boeing will bring its ScanEagle and Integrator UAS to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
At the same time, Northrop Grumman is supporting ADASI in making UAS popular in the MENA locale. Further, Rockwell Collins this year opened an office in Abu Dhabi to identify and cater to future mil/aero opportunities.
Another mil/aero force, having operated in Abu Dhabi for the past 20 years, Adcom Systems provides a range of UAS platforms, from the Predator-like United 40 to the stealthier, canard design of the YABHIN-H. The company specializes in medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS and support systems, including forward-looking infrared (FLIR) payloads, flight control units (FCU), and ground control systems (GCS).
This mil/aero geek is excited to see continued and increased investment in unmanned vehicle research and development (R&D). There’s much more to come, including information on Google’s robotic aspirations; for now, however, best wishes for happy holidays and a wonderful, technology-filled new year. See you in 2014!