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Unmanned Systems


The unmanned systems industry presents a unique opportunity for growth for San Diego’s aerospace companies. San Diego is home to two of the largest military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturers, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics, and is a hub for UAV technologies for both military and civilian users. Covering air, land and water, the unmanned systems platforms manufactured in the region serve a variety of sophisticated military and commercial missions.
With the rise in commercial and consumer uses, this industry is well positioned to carry aerospace forward and to continue to attract top aerospace and software engineering talent to the region. While the DoD has been driving these technologies, significant moves by companies like Qualcomm, Amazon and Google reflect the emerging opportunities for unmanned systems in commercial markets. San Diego’s talent base has the right blend of technical skills from communications, software, cybersecurity, aviation, robotics and data analytics to capitalize on the maturation of these commercial markets.

Industry Highlights & Contributions

  • Global leaders: San Diego is home to the two global leaders in advanced UAV development for the DoD: Northrop Grumman and General Atomics.
  • Funding: San Diego County receives the highest concentration of DoD funding for unmanned systems technology of any location in the country.1
  • Air, land, sea: San Diego has a rich ecosystem of air, land and sea unmanned systems manufacturers who have the benefit of direct access to testing ranges and Navy customers. 

Key Companies 

  • 5D Robotics 
  • Action Drone 
  • General Atomics
  • Inova Drone
  • Kratos
  • L3 Technologies
  • Northrop Grumman 
  • Ocean Aero
  • Qualcomm
  • Shield AI 
  • Teledyne Technologies



Highlights: 1. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, “Program Acquisition Cost by Weapon System: United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request, 2016