After spending more than $50 billion on the Sochi Olympics, Russia has announced that it will spend $9 billion on a drone program by 2020, according to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement Friday, saying that the new drones would boost reconnaissance and communications abilities of the Russian military, but declined to say how many of the unmanned craft the country would be buying.
Russia currently operates 43 types of drones and has a fleet of around 500, one of the largest military fleets in the world. It is set to grow after President Vladimir Putin said that UAVs are a vital to Russian development in modern aviation, and that it was essential that Russia developed a wide range of drones, including reconnaissance and combat craft.
It’s expected that Russia will test the United Arab Emirates-built Yabhon United 40 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV.
Russia has also done deals with other foreign-based drone suppliers. Israel Aerospace delivered 12 UAVs in a deal that was signed in 2009.