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“It is no wonder that San Diego produces so many astronauts, from the first Latina in space to the first person to fly to the moon.We’re a hub of engineering innovation and aviation experience."

Francis French, Director of Education, San Diego Air & Space Museum
June 7, 2017

Aerospace has a long history in San Diego, dating back to the early 1900s when Ryan Airlines built the Spirit of St. Louis and Reuben Fleet brought Consolidated Aircraft Corporation to Lindbergh Field. Since then, San Diego’s aerospace industry has been an integral part of the region’s - and the world’s - economy.
Home to some of the world’s largest aerospace, aircraft, and research and development companies, San Diego is a North American aerospace hub. Accounting for nearly one-fifth of the region’s innovation employment, the aerospace industry is evolving to include a new wave of innovators pushing the envelope in new space, commercial satellites, unmanned systems, and rockets. 
In March 2016, in partnership with Los Angeles EDC, San Diego Regional EDC released a study assessing the aerospace industry across Southern California. Read the full study and fact sheet.

Industry Highlights & Contributions

  • Funding the future: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (ASI) partners with Boeing to develop the MQ-25 “Stingray” prototype tanker for the U.S. Navy.1
  • Life-saving technology: Shield AI, a local drone startup whose mission is to save lives with artificially intelligent systems, has raised $10.5 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.2
  • RoboSub 2017:  In its 20th edition, the unmanned, underwater robotics competition at SPAWAR’s large maritime test facility welcomed more than 300 college and high school students from eight countries to compete to design and build a vehicle from the ground up.3

Key Companies



Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International

AUVSI is the world’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community. It serves more than 7,500 members from government organizations, industry, and academia.

National Defense Industrial Association, San Diego Chapter

NDIA is the trusted leader in defense and national security associations. NDIA, comprised of its affiliates, chapters, divisions, and 1,600 corporate and 85,000 individual members, is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational association that aims to educate its constituencies on all aspects of national security.

San Diego Military Advisory Council
SDMAC supports, promotes, and represents the common business and other interests of the military, its quality of life issues, and the defense industry community in the San Diego area.


Tijuana Economic Development Corporation
The Tijuana Economic Development Corporation is a non-profit private organization, founded in 1989, dedicated to facilitating industrial operations and business opportunities within the Cali Baja binational mega-region. With a major focus on aerospace manufacturing, Tijuana EDC offers free consultation services on how to do business in Mexico and how to identify market opportunities in Tijuana.


1. Popular Mechanics, “Boeing Tests its MQ-25 ‘Stingray’ Prototype Tanker for U.S. Navy Carriers,” 2017 2. San Diego Business Journal, “ShieldAI Raises $10.5 Million in Series A Round,” 2017 3. Defense Visual Information Distribution Center, “RoboSub 2017 kicks off 20th year of unmanned, underwater robotics competition,” 2017