EU firm Parrot chosen to produce surveillance drones for the US

Posted May 28, 2019 by Ken Hanly
Parrot company is one of six companies chosen by the US Dept. of Defense to manufacture short-range reconnaissance aircraft for the US military.
A small remote-controlled drone hovers in the sky at the DC Area Drone User Group meet-up on Februar...
A small remote-controlled drone hovers in the sky at the DC Area Drone User Group meet-up on February 1, 2014
Robert MacPherson, AFP/File
Chinese companies left out of the deal
In spite of DJI having the largest market share of drone makers it is not involved in the deal nor are other Chinese firms. All the firms are from the US and EU even though Chinese companies are dominant in the area. DJI had a market share of 24 percent in 2018, twice as much as its nearest competitor. However, there are many firms in the market still.
No doubt the US could justify its decision to exclude Chinese firms on the ground of security. It could also be part of Trump's trade war with China that the top firm in the area is not involved. The trade war may allow US and EU firms to gain some lucrative US government contracts.
The military drone market is by far the largest
The drone market is dominated by its military users but they also have important other uses such as agriculture as noted in this recent article: "Precision weapon delivery for the surface targets uses in many other military applications such as surveillance, target acquisition, information and reconnaissance are boosting the usage of drones from the past decade. Nowadays, technological developments in agriculture sectors had started utilising the drones for increasing crop production and monitoring crop growth with the help of the sensors and digital image processing capabilities. The implementation of electronic gadgets in the drones has been helping farmers to monitor the crop crystal clearly and to eradicate & overcome the irrigation, soil variation, pest and fungal infestations challenges."
According to the analyst firm Envision Intelligence military applications make up about 70 percent of the drone market while consumer applications are just 17 percent with other uses such as filmmaking and climate modeling in the commercial area are just 13 percent.
For Parrot the US is a major market
Henri Seydoux, CEO of the French firm said: “The United States has always been a major market for the Parrot Group whether it is for our well-known consumer range or our advanced professional offering. We have always been at the forefront creating advanced, easy to use, compact and reliable drone-based solutions. We also perfectly understand how small unmanned aircraft, such as the Parrot ANAFI platform, has the potential to become a key part of the defense system.”
Parrot company has always been a weak competitor of DJI with its Anafi line not nearly as popular as the Phantom Mavic and Spark models of rival DJI. The contract while not all that lucrative paves the way for a closer relationship with the US military with the prospect of more business in the future.
The requirements for the reconnaissance drone
Parrot will receive an undisclosed sum from an $11 million fund that the DOD has to develop the prototype of a next-generation reconnaissance drone that can fly for up to half an hour within a range of three kilometers. It must weigh only three pounds or less. It is to be designed to take less than two minutes to put together and should fit inside a standard issue backpack.