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San Diego County is home to the two largest drone makers, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Northrop Grumman. Smaller local companies make drones, and others make components. In an article in the Daily Beast dated March 31, Erik Bruvold of the National University System Institute for Policy Research estimates that the drone business provides 14,000 jobs in the county and generates as much as $2 billion in annual revenue. Drone production comprises more than 12% of Department of Defense contract activity in the county, says Bruvold.

But controversy -- er, uh -- drones on. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts that by decade's end, as many as 30,000 drones will be flying U.S. airspace, says Daily Beast. This has raised many privacy concerns. Drones can steer pesticides to crops; inspect bridges, pipelines and power lines, and find hurricane victims stranded on rooftops, according to the Associated Press. Since January, more than 30 states have introduced legislation that would prevent police from using drones for broad public surveillance, says the A.P.

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Visduh April 1, 2013 @ 3:29 p.m.

Don, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "home to the two largest drone makers." While it is true that GA is headquartered here, Northrop Grumman is not. It is headquartered in Falls Church, VA, and has an aerospace sector HQ in Redondo Beach. If you mean that NG has employees in San Diego, that is the case, and they claim to have about 4500 of them here.


Don Bauder April 1, 2013 @ 6:34 p.m.

Visduh: I said "home." I didn't say "headquarters." Yes, Northrop Grumman is not based in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


kevincw01 April 1, 2013 @ 8:07 p.m.

actually Visduh, NG recently announced that they're consolidating all UAV product centers to their san diego location.


Don Bauder April 2, 2013 @ 7:12 a.m.

kevincw01: Visduh actually has a point. When I said that San Diego was "home" to the two big drone makers, some could interpret that as saying those companies are based in SD. I could have worded it better. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 2, 2013 @ 8:30 a.m.

There has been lots of drone activity in the SD area for several years.

Lots of video ( live) on KU band every day.


Don Bauder April 2, 2013 @ 9:40 a.m.

Murphyjunk: The pertinent question is whether there will be lots more. If the US gets out of Afghanistan and manages to stay out of other wars in the Middle East, military orders could drop. However, domestic use of drones could rise sharply unless thwarted by privacy concerns. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 2, 2013 @ 2:21 p.m.

the companies that make them will convince their friends in the government they are needed one way or another. keeps the industry rolling.


Don Bauder April 2, 2013 @ 3:50 p.m.

Murphyjunk: You are most astute. The aerospace/defense industry definitely influences U.S. foreign policy -- and not toward peace. Best, Don Bauder


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