The United States has the most miilitary drones by far. They spend 7 billion dollars a year on them.
The concept of air vehicles was originally given several decades ago, but at that time, these unmanned aerial vehicles used to have very basic designs. However, the technology has revolutionized with time and today, the drones have become a multi-million-dollar industry. As per some recent reports, the military UAV production in the entire world reaches somewhere around $2.8 billion; however, the amount is expected to increase up to $9.4 billion by the end of 2025.
Over 100 countries have military drones. There are about 30k drones in service.
Many agencies are working hard to maintain a huge database regarding military drones around the world. But as many countries prefer to keep it a national security secret, we cannot estimate the exact stats about which country as most military drones. In general, a report recently revealed that there are almost 150 types of UAVs that are used by 48 different countries around the world. These drones have variable size and power ranges; the smallest one, Black Hornet, is of the size of Hummingbird, whereas the largest one is RQ-4 Global Hawk that is somewhere around 15000 pounds.
The first most country that added drones into their armed forces was the United States; however, after that many other nations took this initiative. Today as well, the United States is rated as the largest producer, researcher and user of advanced military drones. During the recent budget session, the United States presented $2.4 billion for research, procurement and upgrades of drones. At present, the most expensive UAV system with this country is MQ-9 Reaper that costs somewhere around $1.2 billion. It works as a primary offensive strike drone in the military in the United States.
MQ-9 Reaper was designed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and it is rated high for its powerful operations. It can stay in air for almost 27 hours, can handle payload up to 3750 pounds, has maximum altitude of 50,000 ft and the top speed it can achieve is 240 KTAS. Other than this, Reaper contains large range finders, cameras, and infrared sensors.
IISS data says that the United States has at least 678 drones that are currently in service, and it includes 18 different varieties. 14 out of these 18 drones are identified as ‘heavy’ drones and this list also includes MQ-1B predator. America is considered as the leader in the field of armed drones and at the same time, it has a wide collection of UAVs. Pentagon is always making efforts to improve the surveillance capacity of the country by projecting classic drone designs.
It is important to mention that the large remote-controlled drones can execute autonomous functions, whereas the cheap AI-powered drones make decisions via Swarm Intelligence algorithms. After knowing about the continuous efforts of the United States for the development of powerful armed drones, many other countries are also inspired to improve their drone stocks. Israel and China are working hard in this direction. However, the exact stats are still missing due to secret missions going on in various countries.