While many current drone programs are extremely complex – and costly – cheap drones used for spying, mapping, and even attacks could turn the tables on world militaries by giving terrorists and less well-funded groups access to UAV technology.
A report by the Project 2049 Institute notes that China is hard at work on its own, less-expensive drone program that could end up being marketed to other players on the globe. Iran, for example, already sells simple drones to neighbors in the Middle East, including Syria. An advanced program coming out of China would, at the very least, allow for more powerful devices to percolate out to countries with less-developed UAV systems.
“In whatever future conflict scenario we’re in five or 10 years from now, the proliferation of UAVs is going to complicate things for the U.S. military,” said research fellow Ian Easton to TechNewsDaily. The market for unmanned drones could reach $89 billion over the next decade.
While they may not be as powerful as US, European, or Japanese robotic systems, these cheaper, Chinese drones could level the playing field just a bit when it comes to unmanned warfare in the future.