Proliferated Drones

About the Project

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The Proliferated Drones Project

Proliferated Drones, a project by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), is designed to examine the implications of drone proliferation and identify the core issues facing the United States and its partners. The project analyzes the technology available to state and non-state actors, potential uses of that technology, and political and strategic implications of those uses, resulting in recommendations and policy options for how to address the challenges associated with the expanding use of drones.

The proliferation of weapons-capable drones around the world, to not only states but also non-state actors and even individuals, raises difficult challenges for crisis stability, escalation dynamics, and norms regarding sovereignty violation.

The answers to these questions hinge not principally on the technology itself, but how states and non-state actors will use the technology, and how they will perceive its use by themselves and others. Anticipating the likely contours of a drone-saturated world will help the U.S. government take steps today to influence, as best it can, the shape of a future most conducive to American interests.

Proliferated Drones is a joint project between CNAS’ Technology and National Security Program and 20YY Future of Warfare Initiative.

The joint project features research and analysis from:


We would like to thank our colleagues at the Center for a New American Security and other organizations for sharing their insights and expertise throughout the research and writing of the products you find on this website. In particular, we are grateful to Melody Cook for her creative vision and to Alex Velez-Green and Jacqueline Parziale for their excellent research assistance.

We would also like to recognize Michael Horowitz and Matthew Fuhrmann for generously sharing their data on drone proliferation. We would like to thank Dan Gettinger, Arthur Holland Michel, Isobel Coen, Maggie Barnett, Riley Griffin, and Elena Botts for researching and constructing the Drone Database.

Readers should note that CNAS receives funding from some of the organizations mentioned on this website. CNAS maintains a broad and diverse group of more than 100 funders, including private foundations, government agencies, corporations, and private individuals, and retains sole editorial control over its ideas, projects, and products.

This project is possible thanks to the support of the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Home Page, How Do Drones Change Conflict?: Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, U.S. Marine Corps via

About CNAS

The mission of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is to develop strong, pragmatic, and principled national security and defense policies. Building on the expertise and experience of its staff and advisors, CNAS engages policymakers, experts, and the public with innovative, fact-based research, ideas and analysis to shape and elevate the national security debate. A key part of our mission is to inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.

CNAS is located in Washington, and was established in February 2007 by co-founders Kurt M. Campbell and Michèle A. Flournoy.

CNAS is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Its research is independent and non-partisan. CNAS does not take institutional positions on policy issues. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in the publications featured on this website should be understood to be solely those of the authors.