Russia’s Rising Drone Industry
• Russian government will most likely issue a stringent set of rules that may limit, but not outright prohibit, the flying or use of UAVs in its domestic space outside of official government and military duties. Given how even a small quadro-copter hobby design can be made potentially lethal by a few augmentations, Russian government will not take any chances in order to prevent such UAV platforms from being used in action against the state or its citizens. For example, the government may use existing cases like the one in the United States where a small UAV was landed on the White House lawn in order to monopolize this technology and the majority of its applications. Already, the debate on the domestic UAV use in Russia is heating up, with proposals that may require registration for all UAV platforms over 30 kilos (66lbs) in weight.
• Finally, Russia will market its various UAVs to potential international customers. However, this space is becoming increasingly crowded, since UAV tech has proliferated widely and various UAS are now constructed and sold by a wide range of countries normally not associated with advanced military technology. For example, even states like Estonia and Latvia are becoming significant contributors to the UAV marketplace, and although the majority of their designs tend to be on the smaller side, they and many other designs fielded by a variety of nations may pose significant competition to Russian models down range. At the same time, Russia will utilize its existing arms export capabilities to sell a select set of UAV designs to its existing and loyal customers.
Samuel Bendett is a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a foreign affairs contributor to the RealClearWorld.com blog. Previously he worked at the National Defense University on emerging and disruptive technologies for government response in crisis situations. The views expressed here are his own.