FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — London-based Strat Aero has announced plans to buy Texas drone developer Aero Kinetics in a $24 million deal.
Fort Worth-based Aero Kinetics says the agreement will allow for expansion in the rapidly emerging unmanned aircraft systems sector.
“We are excited to move forward with Strat Aero, widening our global reach and breaking new ground in the unmanned aircraft space,” said W. Hulsey Smith, chairman and CEO of Aero Kinetics. “Our company has been at the leading edge in one of the most promising and fastest-growing sectors of aerospace in decades. Working together, we will be at the forefront of the future of UAS, providing the technology for significant innovation and leadership in the industry for years to come.”
Smith will remain the Chairman and CEO of Aero Kinetics, and will become the President of Mission Systems for Strat Aero PLC. Aero Kinetics, founded in 2003, provides aerospace and defense technology and services.
Strat Aero on Friday said the acquisition will assist in software, hardware and services related to unmanned aerial vehicles.
Strat Aero, which began trading on London AIM last November making it one of two pure play publically traded unmanned aircraft companies, recently acquired two companies in the UAS space: Geocurve Holdings Limited and UAV Airways Limited, both located in the UK. The UAS market is expected to grow to $82 billion by 2025, according to the AUVSI Economic Report 2013.
Smith, a Fort Worth resident, founded Aero Kinetics in 2003 while still in college at Southern Methodist University. Ten years later, Aero Kinetics has grown into an aerospace and defense firm, having operated on various continents of the world in support of business aviation, special missions, and U.S. national defense.
While attending SMU with a football grant-in-aid, Hulsey suffered a severe neck injury that ended his athletic career. During the nerve and muscular rehab that followed, he began to study leadership development. Turning his competitive drive from the football field to business, Hulsey launched a small venture capital firm, while still a student at SMU. His first investment was in aviation, the forerunner of Aero Kinetics.
Aero Kinetics maintains a client roster that includes several Fortune 100 companies, according to the Fort Worth-based firm. The deal with Strat Aero furthers Aero Kinetics’ resources to build better aircraft, enhance customer experience, and grow in the global market, according to a company press release. – Additional reporting by FWB’s Robert Francis