In a thought-provoking LinkedIn post, Chris Fink, Founder & CEO at Unmanned Vehicle Technologies (UVT), sheds light on the potential consequences of the Countering CCP Drones Act and the Drones for First Responders Act (DFR Act). As an industry insider, Fink argues that these pieces of legislation could have devastating effects on the American drone market.

The Blue sUAS Scalability Issue

One of the main concerns Fink raises is the lack of scalability outside of .

He shares a personal experience: “UVT ordered two drones from an American manufacturer on January 3, 2024. The drones were not delivered until May 24, 2024. That's 142 days for two American-made drones. In that same 142 days, we ordered and received ~270 Chinese-made drones.”

This stark contrast in turnaround times highlights the immense gap between Chinese and American drone manufacturers. Fink warns that if demand for American drones were to double or even absorb the 80% market share currently held by Chinese companies, the supply chain would collapse.

The Experience Gap

Fink also points out the vast difference in experience between Chinese and American . DJI, for example, has been delivering high-quality, reliable, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drones for about a decade. In comparison, American companies like and are relatively new to the game.

“Took me 8 months to get our [SKYDIO] X10,” said J.D. D'Arville, UAS Program Administrator at on LinkedIn, illustrating the challenges faced by American drone manufacturers.

The Need for Government Support

While critics of Chinese drones often point to the subsidies provided by the Chinese government, Fink argues that this is precisely what American drone manufacturers need to grow quickly and gain market share. Instead of supporting domestic companies, US legislators are pushing for bans on Chinese drones without considering the consequences.

“Great write up as always Chris Fink. You have an inside view that manufacturers like Skydio and BRINC want to keep hidden from lawmakers,” said Kyle Nordfors, UAS Chairman for the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) and UAS Team Coordinator Weber County , on LinkedIn. “The and the DFR Act will put lives at risk.”

The Potential Fallout

Fink warns that if everyone suddenly switches from Chinese to American drones, the supply will be gone before anyone realizes it. The drone market could be decimated for a year or more if legislators continue down this path.

“Economy of scale doesn't happen quickly. It takes time,” Fink emphasizes. “Companies that have been struggling to gain market adoption aren't going to be willing to put themselves into load of debt to buy in at the massive quantities needed even if they have demand. Demand does not equal revenue.”

DroneXL's Take

The concerns raised by Chris Fink are valid and should not be taken lightly. The US is still in its nascent stages, and attempting to abruptly cut off the Chinese supply could have severe consequences. American drone manufacturers need time and support to scale up and meet the demands of the market.

READ MORE: DRONE INDUSTRY'S OUTRAGE OVER STEFANIK'S ANTI-CHINA LEGISLATION

While national security concerns regarding Chinese drones are understandable, legislators must consider the broader implications of their actions. Banning Chinese drones without a robust domestic alternative in place could lead to a significant setback for the US drone industry and, as Kyle Nordfors points out, potentially put lives at risk.

It is crucial for lawmakers to work closely with industry experts and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategy that balances national security with the practical realities of the drone market. Only through collaboration and careful planning can the US drone industry thrive and compete on a global scale.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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