Pentagon’s unmanned systems spending Tops $5.4 billion in FY2010

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U.S. spending on unmanned systems has steadily increased since 2001. In the next budget request the department of defense is seeking an increase of almost $870 million, more than 18.4 percent over the $4.53 billion spent this year. Last year the Pentagon spent $3.9 on UVS; Spending on unmanned systems has increased 37.5 percent over the past two years.

Among the UVS programs supported in the next budget, the procurement includes: five RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs ($608 million) and 24 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs ($489 million.) They will be spending $2.13 billion, buying 36 Predators ($651 million), 704 Raven Small UAVs ($79 million) and $609 million will be spent RQ-7 Shadow tactical UAV system modifications. The Army is also planning to spend $125.6 million on unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). These are included as part of the Future Combat Systems brigade combat team modernization program, for which the several new robots are being developed – including the iRobot Small UGV and Lockheed , working on the multifunction utility logistics equipment (MULE) UGV.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are buying about $1 billion worth, about 80% is directed for research and development. The procurement budget will total about $180 million, including 11 RQ-7 Shadow UAV systems and 517 Ravens for the Marines, while the Navy will acquire five MQ-8 Fire Scout UAVs for $77.6 million.

The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will also receive about $50 million to sustain operations of Reaper, Predator and Small Tactical UAS (STUAS).