China is getting into the flying robot business, as much for financial as security reasons, according to business consultants Frost and Sullivan. A report in Singapore’s Straits Times says the consultancy believes the United States is by now well stocked with drones, and between now and 2020 will be scaling back purchases from more than $5 billion per year to $2.3 billion. At the same time, the global market for drones should increase to more than $7 billion. A market opportunity would emerge for Chinese-made drones, which the report claims will ramp up in the next three years, as Chinese technology for high altitude pilotless flight improves.
What of it? The Chinese drones may spread the weapons across Asia and the rest of the world; most drones on the market today are American and Israeli designs. It’s a political argument, insofar as proliferation is in the eye of the beholder: though China might well sell to Pakistan or Iran, the U.S. just agreed to arm several of the Reaper drones operated by Italy.
(ProPublica has a useful primer on drones. It’s here, via Juan Cole.)