Before we closed out 2010, Wake County Economic Development was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a morning with Tom Captain, vice chairman of Global and U.S. Aerospace & Defense for Deloitte LLP. This event was arranged in coordination with our Defense Technology Cluster and served as a great opportunity for our defense companies and other affiliates to interface with an industry thought leader. What was shared was very encouraging for Wake County.
For historical purposes, during the height of World War II, defense spending was 25 percent of GDP. Fast-forward to today, as we prepare to enter into the 11th year of the Afghan War, defense spending is only 4.6 percent of GDP. This is primarily due to the evolving nature of the threat and our ability to adapt to that threat with technology innovation.
For example, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platform has made a critical contribution to our nation’s wartime mission by not only increasing reconnaissance and intelligence gathering and target engagement, but more importantly, UAVs have also attributed to a decrease in causalities to the war fighter by applying ‘more software and less hardware’ to a problem. A single UAV costs approximately $5 million and is composed of $1 million in hardware and $4 million in sophisticated equipment and software. This trend in applying advanced technology to problems in the battlefield is good news for our defense technology companies.
But it does not stop at the battlefield. The technology innovations taking place among our companies and research institutions in Wake County are not only supporting U.S. Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, the largest U.S. military installation, but they are also finding expanded applications in Homeland Security and other federal government markets as well as the commercial sector.
As Fort Bragg continues to grow with the addition for Forces Command this fall, Wake County will continue to support our technology companies that provide the advanced tools and software our war fighters deserve.