U.S. war corporations are thrilled with the growth industry that unmanned aircraft represent. Below are all of the contracts involving drones that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) issued from the beginning of January through the end of March 2018. DOD spent at least $3,945,000,000 on thirty drone contracts during this time. That is enough money to pay a year’s salary to 98,625 public school teachers [.pdf]. War is indeed a racket.
AeroVironment Inc. received $9,323,145 for Switchblade contractor logistics support. Relatively short CLS contracts allow a war corporation to repeatedly bilk the Pentagon out of money in exchange for brief maintenance periods.
Boeing received $47,037,076 for eight ScanEagle systems in support of “Building Partnership Capacity” in Afghanistan. These ScanEagles include spares, equipment, program management, and a field service rep. “Building Partnership Capacity” is often paid for using Afghan Security Forces funding, which comes from U.S. taxpayers.
BAE Systems; Boeing; Booz Allen Hamilton; Cubic; L-3; Lockheed Martin; Northrop Grumman; Raytheon; Rockwell Collins received a shared $496,000,000 for work on datalinks in support of tactical platforms and time-sensitive applications. This contract, featuring some of the biggest profiteers in the war industry, will purportedly help DOD cope with increased amounts of drone data and different formats of SIGINT, GEOINT, and video.
General Atomics received $12,400,000 for repair and technical assistance to the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear systems. Traditional aircraft launch systems use steam power. GA’s EMALS aims to replace the traditional steam launchers on many aircraft carriers.
General Atomics received $11,430,408 for MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 kits. A ‘block’ is basically a version of a given weapon of war, so consider block 5 kits to be version 5.0.
General Atomics received $14,151,324 for MQ-9 Block 5 kits. This includes Barrett Asymmetrical Digital Datalink Computer (BADDC) Routers, which boost the amount of data MQ-9 vehicles can transmit and receive.
General Atomics received $49,336,683 to develop, field, and sustain MQ-9 software development.
L-3 received $8,177,812 for MQ-1 Predator Mission Aircrew Training System Block 30 retrofit communication kits and simulator seats. Even though the MQ-1 Predator is being retired and phased out in favor of the MQ-9 Reaper, lucrative contracts are still issued for the MQ-1.
L-3 received $90,000,000 for electro-optical and infrared sensors.
Raytheon and Palantir received a shared $876,000,000 for Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Capability Drop 1. Palantir has engaged in a long legal battle in order to tender its version of the DCGS-A.
Textron received $15,670,445 for unmanned aircraft systems ISR services at Bagram and Kandahar airfields in Afghanistan. Similar to AECOM, Textron is a war corporation that operates drones in addition to providing the maintenance and equipment.
URS received $961,000,000 for remotely piloted aircraft (MQ-1, MQ-9, RQ-4) operations and maintenance support. URS received $15,843,950 for program support on Air Combat Command's UAS Operations Center. URS claims it will provide DOD with long-term, real time surveillance, and precise attack capabilities against a variety of targets.