Wednesday, October 31, 2012
One of the most important engines of the region’s defense sector has been the research, development, and production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). UAVs are reusable remotely piloted aircraft, either controlled from a remote location and/or which fly autonomously on a pre-programmed flight plan. They are used in a variety of roles including surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, surveying and many more uses. UAVs have experienced dynamic growth over the past decade, and the worldwide market for UAVs will continue to be a prime area for growth among defense and aerospace companies.
San Diego has emerged as a global leader in UAV production. Since 2004, San Diego’s aerospace employment, now primarily focused on unmanned aircraft systems, has increased by 1,200 jobs. Just since early 2010, the sector has added 600 jobs. The two major UAV firms locally, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, each conduct billions of dollars in UAV unclassified contract work in San Diego County. According to Northrop Grumman Vice President Jim Zortman, “The center of
the unmanned business for aerial vehicles is right here in San Diego.”