Data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which it has allowed us to re-publish here on the Datablog, identifies 56 different types of UAVs used in 11 different countries. Where it can calculate actual stocks, this covers 807 drones in active service around the world – and this is a huge underestimate: number data is not available for China, Turkey and Russia.
The US is the most open about its drone stocks. The IISS data shows that is has at least 678 drones in service, of 18 different types. Some 14 of them are identified as ‘heavy’, and includes UAVs such as the MQ-1B Predator, of which it has over 100.
The following list seems to be vastly undercounting. CNN reports that the US has about 7500 drones instead of the 678 listed. China unveiled 25 drone models at an air show in 2010, some of which were outfitted with the capability to fire missiles.
The Teal Group, a defense consulting firm in Virginia, estimated in June that the global market for the research, development and procurement of armed drones will just about double in the next decade, from $6.6 billion to $11.4 billion.
UAV stocks by country (Aug 2012) by IISS
COUNTRY SERVICE TYPE WEIGHT NUMBER NOTES USA Army I-Gnat Heavy 3 USA Army RQ-5A Hunter Heavy 20 USA Army MQ-1C Grey Eagle Heavy 19 Includes Warrior/Sky Warriors USA Army RQ-7A Shadow Medium 236 USA Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout Heavy 5 USA Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk Heavy 4 BAMS Demonstrators USA Navy RQ-2B Pioneer Medium 35 USA Marines RQ-7B Shadow Medium 32 USA Marine Res RQ-7B Shadow Medium 4 USA Air Force MQ-1B Predator Heavy 101 USA Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Heavy 73 USA Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk Heavy 23 Including Block 30 to be withdrawn USA Air Force RQ-170 Sentinel Heavy 1+ USA AirNatGuard MQ-1B Predator Heavy 42 USA AirNatGuard MQ-9 Reaper Heavy 14 USA Army SOCOM CQ-10 Snowgoose Heavy 28 USA AF SOCOM MQ-1B Predator Heavy 29 USA AF SOCOM MQ-9 Reaper Heavy 10 France Army Sperwer Medium 20 SDTI France Air Force Harfang Heavy 3 Germany Army KZO Medium 6 Germany Air Force Heron Heavy 3 Italy Air Force RQ-1B Predator Heavy 5 Turkey Army Falcon 600 Heavy n/k Turkey Army Firebee Heavy n/k Turkey Army CL-89 Medium n/k Turkey Army Gnat Medium n/k Turkey Air Force Heron Heavy 10 Turkey Air Force Gnat 750 Medium 18 UK Army Hermes 450 Medium n/k UK Army Watchkeeper Medium n/k UK Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Heavy 5+ To be 10 Russia Army Tu-143 Reys Heavy n/k Russia Army Tu-243 Reys/Reys D Heavy n/k Russia Army Tu-300 Korshun Heavy n/k China Army BZK-005 Heavy n/k China Army WZ-5 Heavy n/k China Army ASN-105 Medium n/k China Army ASN-206 Medium n/k China Army ASN-104 Medium n/k China Army WZ-50 n/k n/k China Army WZ-6 n/k n/k China Air Force CH-1 Chang Hong Heavy n/k China Air Force Chang Kong 1 Heavy n/k China Air Force Firebee Heavy n/k India Army Nishant Medium 14 India Army Searcher Mk I/II Medium 12 India Navy Heron Heavy 4 India Navy Searcher Mk II Medium 8 India Air Force Searcher Mk II Medium n/k Iran Army Mohajer IV Medium n/k Israel Air Force Hermes 450 Medium n/k Israel Air Force Heron Heavy n/k Shoval Israel Air Force Heron-TP Heavy 4 Eitan Israel Air Force RQ-5A Hunter Heavy n/k Israel Air Force Searcher Mk II Medium 22 22 more in store
Combat Air Craft by Country
Data from Center for Strategic and International Studies, Bharat Rakshak otherwise where noted.
Country Fighters Bombers Attack USA 3,043 171 1,185 Russia 1,264 166 1,267 China 1,130 118 370 India 901 91 220 North Korea 899 60 211 South Korea 648 60 352 Pakistan 325 30 250 Israel 233 10 264 Egypt 644 25 UK 345 50 209
Since drones are about 10 to 100 times cheaper than fighters and bombers, it seems likely that UAV fleets would end up being 10 to 100 times larger than regular combat aircraft. There are also supercheap drones that cost 1000 to 1 million times less. The capabilities of the supercheap drones is of course vastly inferior.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.