Israel world’s largest exporter of drones, report says

UAV sales net $4.6 billion over last eight years, and make up nearly 10 percent of defense exports

An Israeli 'Ethan' drone, in the service of the Israeli Air Force (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
An Israeli 'Ethan' drone, in the service of the Israeli Air Force (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Israel is the world’s largest exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in terms of volume, variety of systems and countries exported to, according to a study released Monday.

Drone exports have amounted to some $4.6 billion over the last eight years and make up nearly 10 percent of Israel’s total defense exports, international consulting firm Frost & Sullivan said. The firm projects that UAV exports will continue to grow by some 5%-10% per year until at least 2020.

Most of the exports, which include the drones themselves or licenses for their construction abroad, as well as service and consultation agreements, go to European and Asian-Pacific countries.

Around 20 Israeli companies participate in the UAV market, the study said.

Israeli military and security exports between 2005 and 2012 amounted to approximately $6.1 billion annually, with unmanned aircraft making up some $578 million on average each year. The figures do not include a special 2012 agreement with India for drone upgrades, which amounted to an additional $958 million.

“The scope of all Israeli defense exports is likely to grow, as Israeli companies continue to sign strategic partnerships with foreign companies and invest in aggressive marketing in markets where demand for unmanned aerial vehicles continues to grow, such as in Africa, the Asia-Pacific [region] and South America,” Frost & Sullivan CEO Eran Flumin said in a statement.

Israel’s robust defense industry is one of the main drivers of the country’s economy. According to a US congressional report from September 2012, Israel ranks eighth among countries in terms of military and arms exports, after the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, China and Italy.

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