The U.S. military spent about $3 billion on drone programs last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. And as government spending cuts threaten to pinch some of that money, defense contractors are looking for ways to expand the drone market domestically to law enforcement agencies, universities and border patrols.
According to HuffPo, here are 12 major corporations making money off of drones:
1. Boeing-Boeing has its hands in a lot of drone technology. In June, the company successfully completed a test flight of one of its drones that is meant to stay airborne for days, according to CBS News. The drone completed a flight from Maryland to California in just 28 minutes.
2. General Atomics-General Atomics, a defense contractor based in Southern California, is set to sell $197 million worth of drones to the United Arab Emirates, according to the Los Angeles Times.
3. Lockheed Martin-Lockheed Martin completed tests in July of a "Stalker" drone that stays airborne for 48 hours, according to Endgadget. The company came under fire after sponsoring a documentary on PBS about drones.
4. Northrop Gruman-Northrop Grumman is helping to expand the drone business to the Asia-Pacific region. Late last year, the company sold $1.2 billion worth of drones to South Korea, according to Bloomberg.
5. AeroVironment-AeroVironment is developing the "Hummingbird drone" for the Pentagon, according to Aol News. But don't let its cute name fool you; the device can hover and perch to watch your every move and aims to someday bolster surveillance capabilities in urban areas, according to Delaware online.
6. Proxy Dynamics-This Norway-based company, founded by Petter Muran in December 2007, developed the Black Hornet Nano, a mini-handheld helicopter that helps soldiers survey an area swiftly by flying at top speeds for up to 30 minutes, according to Gizmag.
7. Denel Dynamics-Denel Dynamics, which is part of South Africa's biggest maker of defense equipment, has seen its sales boom 20 percent in the last four years, according to Money News. Sello Ntsihlele, the company's executive manager for drone technology, called the current climate "the best time" for drones, because demand is increasing in the Middle East, East Asia and Africa.
8. SAIC-This company is helping the Pentagon develop underwater drones to defend against ultra-quiet submarines, according to Money Morning.
9. Israeli Aerospace Industries-Israeli Aerospace Industries pioneered the technology used for drones in the 1970s, according to Agence France Presse. Tommy Silberring, the head of the company's drone division, said increased demand around the world is boosting the drone market, as more countries want to go to war without putting their soldiers at risk.
10. Textron-The military's appetite for drones helped Textron's defense business score a year-over-year revenue jump of $61 million, according to Mass High Tech, even as the rest of its business struggled. The drones have been so successful that the company, run by CEO Ellen Lord, is developing technology for unmanned underwater vehicles like the one pictured, according to the AP.
11. General Dynamics-General Dynamics is one of the major donors to the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (unofficially known as the drone caucus), according to KPBS.
12. DJI-Hong Kong-based DJI's Phantom, used by filmmakers to take steady aerial shots, is one of the most complete drones on the market, according to Quartz. DJI's North America CEO Colin Guinn, as well as others in the drone industry, are putting resources into products like the Phantom, betting that the FAA will approve drones for commercial use in 2015.