The state of Oklahoma believes that it has the resources to be among the leading U.S. states in commercializing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma secretary of science and technology points out that a study by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which ranked Oklahoma 30th for potential aerospace is only a “snapshot” based on current indicators of the U.S.aerospace industry and favors states with large existing manufacturing bases. AUVSI acknowledge this point, saying, “It is important to note that the projections contained in this report are based on the current airspace activity and infrastructure in a given state. As a result, states with an already thriving aerospace industry are projected to reap the most economic gains. However, a variety of factors–state laws, tax incentives, regulations, the establishment of test sites and the adoption of UAStechnology by end users–will ultimately determine where jobs flow.”
Oklahoma’s aspiration to become the “fly to” state for UAS research, development, testing, simulation and manufacturing is backed by a coalition of the state’s political, academic, business and military leadership, starting with Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican who has been out front in promoting the industry. A spring 2012 report by the governor’s UAS council found that Oklahoma “occupies a very favorable position in the nascent UAS industry,” particularly because of access to restricted military airspace where unmanned aircraft can be flown and evaluated, academic resources and a base of at least 15 companies involved in UAS to build upon. “We are right in this space,” McKeever told the Oklahoma UAS summit in Norman in late March. “Our existing industries would really benefit from the development of UAS.”