Who’s Prone to Drone? A Global Time-Series Analysis of Armed Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Proliferation
59 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 18, 2019
What determines whether countries pursue and obtain armed drones? Although this question has received growing attention in scholarship, studies have yet to account for recent trends in drone proliferation. This is a significant limitation because ten countries – over half of all states that possess armed drones today – obtained this technology between 2015 and 2017. There are now a sufficient number of cases to permit rigorous analysis of armed drone proliferation. Using an original time-series dataset, we analyze the spread of armed drones from 1994 to 2017. We develop and test two main arguments. First, we theorize that regime type shapes the proliferation process in ways that vary over time. From 1994-2010, regime type should not be a strong predictor of armed drone proliferation. However, non-democracies should become significantly more likely to pursue and obtain armed drones from 2011-2017 due to the concurrence of three shocks in time, the most important of which asymmetrically eased supply-side constraints for non-democracies. Second, we argue that status-seeking states are more likely to pursue armed drones. The findings support these arguments, suggesting that we must look beyond security factors to fully explain the spread of armed drones. Our results also contribute to the broader academic literature on proliferation by demonstrating how supply and demand shocks can lead to changes in proliferation trends, and lend further credence to the importance of prestige in international politics.
Keywords: drones, UAVs, robotics, military, proliferation, diffusion
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