French drone manufacturer, Parrot, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Defense as one of six companies building short-range reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. military.
Parrot has been a constant competitor of Chinese drone giant DJI, which was not included in the U.S. military deal.
The deal represents a strengthening of U.S.-European commercial entities, like Parrot, against the growing power of Chinese corporations.
While DJI is absolutely the world’s largest and most popular drone manufacturer, there has been an increasing pressure from the U.S. government to avoid deals with Chinese companies.
Recently, the Trump administration’s trade war on China has left many U.S. companies scrambling to pull back from Chinese counterparts, such as Huawei.
While commercial drone markets are expected to grow steadily, the overall size of the commercial drone industry is small compared to the massive size of military contracts using drone technology.
According to Envision intelligence, an analyst firm, military drones make up 70% of the drone market.
As Henri Seydoux, Parrot’s CEO and founder, said: “The United States has always been a major market for the Parrot Group whether it is for our well-known consumer range or our advanced professional offering. We have always been at the forefront creating advanced, easy to use, company and reliable drone-based solutions. We also perfectly understand how small unmanned aircraft, such as the Parrot ANAFI platform, has the potential to become a key part of the defense system.”
On Parrot’s part, winning the defense contract is huge. Usually, Parrot operates under DJI’s shadow. Only this time, DJI isn’t included in the deal.
Parrot is receiving an undisclosed amount of $11 million fund from the Department of Defense to create a prototype for next-generation reconnaissance drones which can fly for 30 minutes straight, over three kilometers, weighs no more than three pounds, takes under two minutes to assemble and can fit in a soldier’s rucksack.