4. Who Has What: Countries Developing Armed Drones

Photo: Flickr / Ashwin Kumar

Who Has What: Countries Developing Armed Drones

European nations have acted collectively to develop the next generation of armed drones, most notably the nEUROn UCAV technology demonstrator and the MALE unmanned aircraft. Resembling the American X-47B, a drone primarily operated by the U.S. Navy in carrier-based operations, but purportedly more advanced than present-day “Predator-class” drones, the nEUROn UCAV demonstrator unveiled on January 20, 2012 in France is a product of a joint European effort involving France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden. It is the first stealth combat drone developed in Europe.

In another showcasing of cooperative European stealth drone design, the “drone users club” consisting of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, agreed on November 19, 2013, to jointly develop armed, MALE drones.

The desire to develop armed drones domestically extends beyond European borders. Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Russia, Taiwan, and India have taken steps toward independent armed drone production with varying results. Seeking protection against neighboring China and Pakistan, India developed Rustom-I UAVs in 2009 and armed Rustom-II MALE UAVs in 2015. While Russia and Taiwan remain in the research and development stage, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey have succeeded in developing armed drones.
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Countries Manufacturing Armed Drones