French drone maker Parrot selected to develop spy aircraft for the US military

Parrot, a long-time competitor of the Chinese drones giant DJI, is one of six companies selected by the US Department of Defense to build short-range reconnaissance aircraft for the US military. The agreement, which includes five other companies but not DJI, represents a strategic front between commercial entities in the United States and Europe, such as Parrot, given the growing predominance of Chinese companies.

DJI is by far the largest and most famous drone manufacturer in the world, with Parrot and other smaller companies such as 3D Robotics and the Chinese firm Yuneec that exist in the shadow of DJI for years. (Since then, 3D Robotics has left the unmanned aircraft hardware market, while GoPro's short-lived Karma effort ended in failure.) But due to increasing pressure from the US government. UU On Chinese companies in the midst of President Donald Trump's trade war, which has so far focused more aggressively on the Android phone maker Huawei, it seems that more American alternatives could be selected to the renowned Chinese brands for lucrative government contracts.

While the commercial drones market is expected to continue to grow steadily, the overall size of the industry of unmanned aircraft is negligible compared to the magnitude of the military. Contracts According to the analyst firm Envision Intelligence, military drone applications constitute approximately 70 percent of the market, with consumer applications only 17 percent and non-military uses such as cinematography and climate modeling in the field commercial only 13 percent.

"The United States has always been an important market for Parrot Group, either for our well-known range of consumers or our advanced professional offering," said Henri Seydoux, CEO and founder of Parrot, in a statement. "We have always been at the forefront of creating advanced, easy-to-use, compact and reliable drones based solutions. We also understand perfectly how small unmanned aircraft, like the Parrot ANAFI platform, have the potential to become a key part of the defense system. "

For Parrot, the contract is a great victory. secondary role for DJI, with its Anafi line that falls short in almost all aspects compared to the DJI Phantom, Mavic and Spark models, although the contract is not as lucrative for Parrot as a company, it does open the doors for the French firm to work more closely with the US Army In the future as a trusted DJI alternative.

Parrot is receiving an undisclosed amount from an $ 11 million DOD fund for reconnaissance aircraft prototypes. next generation that can "fly for 30 minutes at a distance of up to three kilometers", "weigh three pounds or less" and "take less than 2 minutes to assemble and co locar inside the standard backpack of a soldier ".

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