August 13, 2012
Credit: Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin
Graham Warwick Las Vegas
As the wars that have fueled the explosive growth in the use of unmanned systems wind down, the outlook for industry is beginning to look quite different, depending on where you stand in the market.
For small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS), the arena is shifting from rapid, high-volume procurement to top-up buys, export sales, sustainment and upgrades, but demand continues to look robust.
For manufacturers interested in large UAS, the picture that emerged here at the industry's biggest showcase—the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's Unmanned Systems North America 2012—was less clear.
As the attention of military planners begins to shift away from irregular warfare and counterinsurgency, the services operating large UAS are taking time out to look at what would be required to fight a near-peer enemy.
The outlook points to:
•A U.S. Army moving to institutionalize the many UAS investments made over the past decade.
•A U.S. Air Force rethinking its plans to replace the workhorse Predator/Reaper fleet.