(Reuters) -The Russian drone industry could soon be worth 1 trillion roubles ($12.25 billion) once a plan to boost production is put into place, given the vehicles' versatility, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Late last year Putin said Russia must increase its output of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and create infrastructure for their widespread use in military and civilian applications.
Putin said he and executives involved in drone production had looked over figures that showed the industry could in the near future be worth 500 billion roubles. Everyone agreed this was a very conservative estimate, he said.
"Most likely, if we are all together, along with the state, we'll work actively and it will be 1 trillion rubles," he said in remarks that were shown on state television.
Putin last year ordered a strategy for drone development through 2030.
First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov told the meeting that the plan should be ready by July 1 and said that by the end of 2026, Russia should be able to make 18,000 drones a year.
Putin, who spoke after touring an industrial park in Moscow which has been specially designed to manufacture drones, said UAVs could be used in virtually every part of the economy.
While Russia already produces a number of drones, they are not very advanced and Moscow has been chiefly using Iranian-made Shahed unmanned aerial vehicles in its attacks on Ukraine.
During the televised remarks, one executive said drones would be particularly helpful for farmers. Putin said the federal agriculture ministry should take note.
($1 = 81.6205 roubles)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Daniel Wallis)