President Trump Signs Defense Bill with $9.6 Billion for UAS Spending

President Trump has signed into law H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, authorizing the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to spend $9.6 billion for unmanned vehicle systems. The bill increases military spending for unmanned technologies by 28 percent over last year, according to an analysis by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

In its analysis, AUVSI noted that the total requested funding for unmanned technologies across all defense agencies comprises about 1.4 percent of the DoD’s FY2019 budget. Each military service – U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army – had requested a funding increase for unmanned systems.

Among the services, the Navy received the largest funding increase for unmanned systems, with more than $1 billion authorized over last year’s defense budget. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) had the highest funding support at more than $7 billion, according to AUVSI’s review.

Significant funding increases authorized by the NDAA include:

  • The Air Force RQ-4 Mods program and the MQ-9 Advanced Battle Management System received a $225 million total increase from the original funding requests.
  • The Army MQ-1 UAV was increased by $60 million to support the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Service Life Extension Program.
  • The Navy Undersea Warfare Applied Research program received an additional $20 million for academic partnerships involving undersea unmanned warfare.

Some programs related to unmanned systems received less than requested, such as:

  • Fewer MQ-9s for the Air Force Oversea Contingency Operations.
  • Reduced spending for research, development, test and evaluation for the Navy’s MQ-25 and large unmanned undersea vehicle.
  • Decreased funding for the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS), a weapon system to counter UAS-mounted sensors.

“The increase in funding for unmanned systems by the military shows how the technology has advanced to become an important tool for our warfighters,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “Unmanned systems are proving that they have the potential to save time, money and, most importantly, save the lives of our men and women in combat.”



The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents corporations and professionals from more than 60 countries involved in industry, government and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets.

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