The size of San Diego County, CA’s, unmanned aerial vehicle industry doubled over the past five years and could double again as UAVs are increasingly used for everything from spying on suspected terrorists abroad to monitoring the U.S.-Mexico border, says a National University System report.
The industry, which is centered in North County, generated at least $1.3 billion locally in 2011 and directly and indirectly supported 7,135 jobs. The report says the true impact could be far higher due to classified programs that are not included in public records.
Most of the business can be tied to two defense giants — Northrop Grumman of Rancho Bernardo, which specializes in Global Hawk UAVs, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of Poway, which is best-known for Predators.
Both companies develop a variety of the so-called drones, primarily for use outside the U.S. by the military and government. The UAVs were extensively used in the Iraq war, and are being used in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. But the UAVs may soon also be used domestically by law enforcement and other agencies, a move that is opposed by many privacy advocates.
Excerpted from an article by Gary Robbins. Click here to read the full article on U-T San Diego.