Top Ten Companies Making the Most of Drone Technology

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 03/12/2013

The increased use of drones has sparked some animated debates in recent weeks, but despite any opposition, companies across the globe are forging ahead with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology.

Particular areas of concern are the deaths of civilians abroad from drones and the Obama administration’s policy of drone usage in the U.S.

The Pentagon spent $3 billion on drone programs in 2012, but while some of the budget will be eaten away through sequestration, some industry observers believe cuts in the funding of old-style hardware will be far more severe.

The budget reduction in conventional weapons programs will eventually make way for greater investment in areas such as UAV and cyber security.

Mindful of the advancements in technology, defense contractors are now seeking out ways to expand the drone market in non-military sectors.

Here are ten companies, originally unearthed by the Huffington Post, that are cashing in on the burgeoning drone market:

1: Boeing

The aerospace giant last year successfully tested a drone with the capability of remaining airborne for days. The drone flew from Maryland to California. Boeing, under the leadership of CEO Jim McNerney, Jr., brought in revenue of $80.5 billion last year.

2: Lockheed Martin

The contractor has been working on a "Stalker" drone that can stay in the air for 48 hours. The company's CEO is Marillyn Hewson. Its revenue for 2012 was $47.2.

3: General Atomics

The Southern California-based contractor is poised to sell drones with a value of $197 million to the United Arab Emirates, which would be the first deal of its kind to a country outside of NATO. Headed by CEO J. Neal Blue, General Atomics earned $652,129,000 last year.

4: Northrop Grumman

The defense giant has looked to the Asia-Pacific area to boost its drone business. It has already sold drones valued at $1.2 billion to South Korea. Northrop Grumman's profits rose 80 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. The company, based in Falls Church, Virginia, is led by CEO Wes Bush.

5: AeroVironment

The Pentagon is relying on the company to develop the "Hummingbird drone," which can hover and perch as it conducts surveillance. AeroVironment, which has CEO Timothy Conver at the helm, is actually projecting a $230 million drop in revenue this fiscal year as the sections of industry contract.

6: Prox Dynamics AS

The Norwegian company came up with the Black Hornet Nano, a mini helicopter that can stay in the air for 30 minutes. The Nanos have just been introduced in Afghanistan. The contract was worth $31 million.

7: Denel Dynamics

With the demand for drones on the rise in the Middle East, East Asia and Africa, South-Africa based Denel Dynamics is riding on the crest of the wave, pulling in $68,228,037 in 2012.

8: SAIC

The company, which is run by Chairman John Jumper, posted $2.87 billion in revenue during the third quarter of last year, representing a three percent increase from the previous year. SAIC is currently working with the Pentagon on producing underwater drones to combat the threat of submarines.

9: Israeli Aerospace Industries

The technology associated with early drones in the 1970s was developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries and, according to its drone chief Tommy Silberring, the company continues to stay ahead of the game with orders from all over the world.

10: Textron

While some aspects of Textron's business struggled in a bruised economy, its defense division enjoyed a $61 million revenue jump on the previous year. With CEO Ellen Lord at the helm, the company is now developing technology for unmanned underwater vehicles.

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Mike O'Brien
Posted: 03/12/2013