Center for Strategic Communication

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article by Romesh Ratnesar discussing why drones will continue to be a part of U.S. security strategy cited ASP’s cost-benefit analysis of the U.S. drone program. The article was released in the wake of President Obama’s recent speech at the National Defense University on counterterrorism.

The U.S. has around 8,000 drones in its arsenal, most of which are used for surveillance and spying. That amounts to around one-third of all military aircraft. Yet drones cost a small fraction of manned fighter jets, which still consume more than 90 percent of all Pentagon spending on air power. The most powerful drone currently used by the CIA and the military in anti-terrorist operations is the MQ-9 Reaper; it costs around $12 million per drone. A conservative estimate of the cost of an F-22, the Air Force’s most advanced war plane, is 10 times that amount. An analysis by the American Security Project concluded that, even after accounting for the dozens of personnel needed to operate drones, plus their crash rate, “the drones most widely used in U.S. operations have a slight cost advantage over fighter jets.”

A full copy of the Businessweek article can be found here.

A full copy of the ASP’s report “The US and its UAVs: A Cost-Benefit Analysis” can be found here.