Unmanned Aircraft continue to soar


Written by Nathan Max UT San Diego

Despite spending cuts, Northrop in negotiations with government for vehicles Further growth in the $6.5 billion-a-year UAV market is expected over the next decade, and San Diego plays a crucial role.

As two wars end or wind down, the national debt rises and military spending becomes a prime target of budget cuts, all signs point to challenging times ahead for defense contractors.

Despite those factors and the cancellation of a significant program this year, a top Northrop Grumman executive said the company’s local operations look strong, thanks to high demand for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Frequently called “drones,” a term frowned upon by industry insiders, UAVs appear to have a bright future. That’s good news for the local economy, considering large numbers of the specialized aircraft are developed in San Diego. Northrop Grumman has about 3,600 employees in San Diego County, and about 2,200 of them work in unmanned systems, company spokesman Warren Comer said.

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