How Much Does a Military Drone Cost On Average?

Sarhan Basem

Brussels (Brussels Morning Newspaper)  Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often called drones, have become an increasingly common weapon in the United States fight against terrorism. The price of a military drone might be as low as $700,000. The price tag for larger, more sophisticated unmanned aerial systems might range from $1 million to $25 million. While still pricey, drones are far more affordable than manned aircraft, which may cost upwards of $70 million. Keep reading to learn more about how much does a military drone cost and the many job possibilities in the drone industry.

Learn the Fundamentals of Military Drones

Drones from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are regularly utilised in overt and covert conflicts abroad. The use of drones has made it possible to remotely pilot devices that are both powerful and highly armed. The pilots can control a devastating amount of force without risking their lives.

The military and intelligence organisations employ drones to scout during firefights, collect information on enemy activities, and find missing people. According to Britannica, the MQ-1 Predator is the most widely deployed unmanned aircraft vehicle in modern warfare.

Drones used by the military are vital for clandestine operations requiring aerial reconnaissance and providing much-needed air assistance during actual battles. The U.S. Air Force claims that UAS were essential in both operations because they disrupted terrorist plots.

How Much Does a Military Drone Cost?

The price of a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is around $40 million, as reported by Military Factory. Despite the high cost of ownership, the Predator has proven to be an important piece of military hardware for the United States’ operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

General Atomics is the company that manufactures the MQ-1 Predator. The MQ-1 Predator was employed for military surveillance and was flown by the CIA. It was initially put into service in 1995, at the same time when defects in the drone’s design and development were resolved.

There must be at least 55 people on the control crew to operate the Predator, including a pilot and sensor operators. Through the use of the Predator Primary Satellite Link, the control crew can communicate with the aircraft. Because of its triangular retractable landing mechanism, the Predator is able to land and take off even when there is just a little amount of runway area available.

Which Type of Military Drone Is the Least Expensive?

Gremlins are inexpensive unmanned air vehicles (UAs) typically under $700,000. DARPA is in the process of building hundreds of these military drones, which are one of the least costly options. Gremlins are unmanned aerial vehicles that are meant to enter extremely restricted airspace ahead of the arrival of human aircraft.

Compared to bigger, better-equipped drones, these smaller ones have a lower operating cost. They do not come with lasers or missiles, but they are excellent for collecting information ahead of human aircraft since they can fly much faster.

The Benefits of Utilizing Military Drones

According to information from Globe Newswire, the worldwide market for military drones is expected to reach $23.78 billion by the year 2027. However, why do armies continue to utilise them if they are so expensive? The following is a list of “agreed” benefits:

  • Drones used by the military can be controlled remotely and have autonomous features.
  • Drones used by the military can react rapidly and effectively to attacks or specific information.
  • The production and upkeep costs of military drones are lower (compared to planes)
  • The military can reduce expenditures associated with the training of aircraft pilots and maintenance staff.
  • Drones used by the military save more lives than they take (fewer members are required to be deployed)
  • Military drones limit civilian deaths (compared to conventional air strikes)
  • Drones used by the military conduct ongoing observation, which puts pressure on terrorist groups.
  • Drones used by the military are quite effective in eliminating targets that are effectively camouflaged.
  • Drones used by the military have a great deal of space for technical advancement in the future.
  • For instance, engineers are working on allowing them to fix themselves, land themselves, and remain airborne for months rather than days.

How Much Money Do Pilots of Military Drones Make?

The annual wage for a military drone pilot is typically between $57,000 and $61,000, although it may go as high as $61,000. Contrast this with the salary of military pilots who fly manned aircraft; they may make anywhere from $82,000 to over $100,000 per year, with an average of $95,000. The amount of money a pilot makes depends on where in the nation they work, how much experience they have, and what kind of drones and equipment they are responsible for operating.

Read More: Explained: Are Drones the Future of Warfare?


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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.