U.S. drone manufacturers are making new production deals with overseas companies following the U.S. DOJ’s decision to limit funding for drones manufactured in “listed” countries, including China.
Parrot was one of the first overseas companies to provide for U.S. based manufacturing, purchasing a U.S. drone manufacturer to produce their Blue sUAS ANAFI USA. Now, French company Drone Volt has made a five year deal with Hartford, CT-based U.S. drone manufacturer Aquiline Drones (AD) to produce two of DroneVolt’s commercial solutions. The deal includes “exclusive US manufacturing and distribution licensing agreements with Drone Volt (ALDRV.PA), a French aeronautic manufacturer of professional civilian drones, on-board artificial intelligence, edge computing and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) production,” says an Aquiline press release.
Under the terms of this five-year agreement, Aquiline Drones will take over the global production of two popular and proven drones from Drone Volt’s suite of products, including the Hercules 2 and the highly coveted, Altura Zenith. Aquiline Drones will also be the sole manufacturer of the Pensar smart camera, a multispectral sensor, complete with artificial intelligence and edge computing capabilities.
Further to this collaboration, Aquiline Drones will be the exclusive provider of the Hercules 2, Altura Zenith and the Pensar in the United States, thus filling a much-needed gap in American-made drone products and systems.
“We are delighted beyond measure for this aptly timed and mutually beneficial union with Drone Volt,” said Barry Alexander, CEO and founder of Aquiline Drones. “While we have been in operation for just under two years, we spent almost four years incubating this idea of making Hartford ‘Drone Central’ and the State of Connecticut the ‘Drone Capital’ of the US. Our partnership with Drone Volt has catapulted us to the front of the line with world-class design and unmatched capabilities in the commercial drone space.”
“This contract is a historic step for our group as it turns the largest market in the world into an important profit sector. Over the last months, we have created a strong relationship with the Aquiline Drones’ team, which could lead to additional contracts in the future,” said Sylvain Navarro, CFO of Drone Volt.
The deal was formed after the DOJ ordered that DOJ funds could not be used to purchase or operate any drones – or drones equipped with parts – manufactured in listed countries, including China. With China manufacturing a vast majority of commercial off the shelf drones and parts, there are still relatively few U.S. drone manufacturers to provide DOJ funded programs, leaving an opening for more qualified solutions.
“Being able to fill the national UAS void with competitively-priced, American-made drone products and supporting 100% US supply chain is a must – we are extremely proud of this achievement,” said Retired General Brooks Bash, Chief Strategic Advisor at Aquiline Drones. “What started as a casual conversation between our companies has quickly morphed into a close collaboration of synergies to address the needs of an extremely underserved market worldwide and, principally, in the United States.”
10,000 Drones Per Month
Ramping up production for drones has been a challenge for many U.S. drone manufacturers. Aquiline Drones will expand their production facility, adding 55 new technical and manufacturing jobs by the end of the year – and they expect to be able to produce 10,000 drones per month by the end of 2021.
“As part of the terms of the deal, both companies will exchange 10% of each company’s ownership with the other, an arrangement scheduled to be completed before year-end 2020,” says the announcement.
“We believe an exchange in equity strengthens our commitment to each other to ensure we do what we can to move both brands forward optimally,” noted Alexander. “Our partnership with Drone Volt, as a publicly-traded company in Europe, will ensure robust and steady growth for its shareholders, while allowing us at Aquiline Drones access to years of cutting-edge research and development in UAS technology. This union makes both companies more potent than the sum of our parts, allowing for a US-based provider of commercial drone solutions both at home and abroad.”