US military UAV spending on the increase


Proposed spending for unmanned vehicle systems by the US military totals $9.6 billion for 2019, an increase of 28 percent over last year, according to an analysis by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

In a report released in late June, AUVSI reviewed funding proposals for unmanned systems and associated technologies that were included in the President’s Budget and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 (FY2019). The House and Senate have passed separate versions of the annual spending authorization measure. The chambers will work out the differences between the bills during a conference later this summer.

In the analysis, AUVSI notes that “unmanned systems and robotics are key technology areas that enable the U.S. to counter the range of evolving threats posed on the modern battlefield.” Total funding requests for unmanned technologies across all defense agencies comprise about 1.4 percent of the Department of Defense FY2019 budget. Each military service – U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army – has requested a funding increase for unmanned systems.

Specifically, the analysis finds that:
— The Navy requested the largest funding increase among the services, with about $1 billion more requested than when compared to 2018.
— Relative to domain of operation (i.e. air, ground or maritime), unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have the largest funding request at $7 billion.
— Funding for counter-UAS systems almost doubles from the previous year, with approximately $1.5 billion for FY2019. Requests for maritime vehicles are approximately $1.3 billion, while requests for ground robotics are about $700 million.
— Over 60 percent of cross-domain operations involving air and ground unmanned vehicles are funded by the Army, while over half the projects that involve unmanned vehicles across all domains of warfare (air, ground and maritime) are supported by the Navy.
— Of the seven core technologies that enable unmanned systems operations, the largest proposed investment in FY2019 is for integrated sensors and payloads, followed by navigation and control systems.