Boeing Creates Unmanned Drone Division

PARIS (AP) -- Boeing's defense business announced on Monday the launch of a new Unmanned Airborne Systems division, which will group all the company's drone projects to better compete for military contracts.

The formation of the new division reflects the growing interest by various air forces in unmanned aerial vehicles for everything from high-altitude surveillance and coastal patrols to tracking natural disasters.

"The new division establishes a single team focused on implementing a common strategy for unmanned systems and services," said Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS).

The new Seattle-based unit will have roughly $400 million in revenues in its first year, Albaugh said. He forecast double-digit growth for the business in the future.

Boeing's UAVs include the ScanEagle, a small low-cost drone for battlefield reconnaissance, the Phantom Ray, an unmanned aircraft meant for surveillance and aerial attack, and the A160 Hummingbird, a long-endurance helicopter drone.

Despite interest from the U.S. military, none of these projects has yet won a major Pentagon contract.

Boeing IDS is one of the world's largest manufacturer's of military aircraft. The business, headquartered in St. Louis, has 70,000 employees worldwide.

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