The DoD wants an 18.4 percent, or $870 million, spending increase for unmanned systems in fiscal 2010, according to Defense Update and WashingtonTechnology. Line items for unmanned systems in the ’10 budget total $5.4 billion, $870 million more than the DoD will spend on unmanned systems in 2009 and 39% more than the $3.9 billion the DoD spent on unmanned systems in ’08. Most of the proposed funding for unmanned systems in fiscal 2010 would go toward unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) according to Military and Aerospace Electronics.
$3.55 billion will be spent on procurement and $1.82 billion will be spent on research, development, test and evaluation if the budget passes, including:
- $608 million for five RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs.
- $489 million for 24 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs.
- $651 million for 36 MQ-1 Predator UAVs.
- $609 million for RQ-7 Shadow tactical UAV modifications.
- $79 million for 704 RQ-11 Raven small UAVs.
The Army plans to spend $125.6 million to continue Unmanned Ground Vehicle technology. UGVs, part of the Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization program, in development include iRobot’s small UGV and Lockheed Martin’s Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment system.
Defense experts predict that, while UAVs are the most mature in unmanned system technologies, spending for UGVs and Unmanned Marine Vehicles will increase sharply in the next few years as those technologies evolve.
As unmanned systems continue to mature and prove themselves on the battlefield, it is likely that they will bear a greater burden in United States defense planning, maturing into a central role not only in surveillance and reconnaissance but also in interdiction and direct combat. Someday, the frontlines of war might well be unmanned.