Red Cat

Red Cat appointment of Mary Beth Long signals military ambitions for growing drone company

The company that owns some of the most influential drone brands out there just made a key appointment to its board of directors, which might be a big boon in furthering propelling it into the drone influence sphere — especially when it comes to its position in building military drones. Red Cat, which is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, announced this month that it had appointed Mary Beth Long to its board of directors.

Mary Beth Long
Photo courtesy of Mary Beth Long.

Mary Beth Long has an extensive resume and a long list of accomplishments to her name, including being the first woman confirmed by the U.S. Senate to have served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. For that role, she worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense between 2007 and 2009, a position that made her the first female civilian in Pentagon history to have the equivalent of a four-star military ranking. More specifically, she worked as head of the International Security Affairs (ISA) office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she was involved in managing U.S. government policy for the Middle East, Europe and Africa. She was also the first female chair of NATO’s High Level Group, responsible for its nuclear policy and reporting directly to NATO’s secretary general.

Earlier in her career, she was a CIA Operations Officer for more than a decade, having served in the roll between 1986 and 1999.

Her expertise is primarily in national security policy and defense strategy, though she has worked in both the public and private sector. And while she has experience navigating work in the government, she’s also an entrepreneur.

She runs her own law firm, MB Long & Associates, which specializes in export compliance and defense. She is also co-founder and principal of Global Alliance Advisors and owner of Askari Defense and Intelligence. Her other resume lines for past roles include professor of practice at Penn State School of International Affairs.

Given Long’s extensive government experience, her appointment indicates that Red Cat is seeking to make further moves into the military side of drones. Red Cat, while in itself is perhaps not a household name in the drone industry, has about a half-dozen subsidiaries that span aspects of the drone industry, including Fat Shark, which is best known for its role making FPV goggles for drone racing. It also owns drone lifestyle and racing brand Rotor Riot.

Red Cat also owns FPV brands Fat Shark and Rotor Riot.

On the commercial applications side, it owns Dronebox, which is an analytics platform for cloud-based flight intelligence, and  remote inspection company Skypersonic. Skypersonic’s technology enables drones to complete inspection services in locations where GPS is not available, yet still record and transmit data even while being operated from thousands of miles away. 

And last summer, Red Cat acquired Teal Drones, which is most famous for its Teal Golden Eagle drone platform, which is designed for aerial surveillance. Golden Eagle is one of only a few drones approved by the Department of Defense for reconnaissance, public safety and inspection applications.

Red Cat Holdings CEO Jeff Thompson said that Long’s deep knowledge in international security and defense strategy, especially relating to the Middle East, Europe and Africa was a critical reason for her appointment.

“We know her insights will be invaluable and we can’t wait to work with her,” he said in a prepared statement.

As far as Long, it seems like she has her sights set beyond this planet, too.

“Red Cat and its subsidiaries continue to innovate within the unmanned systems industry, developing cutting-edge new technologies that expand our capabilities for Mars exploration, reconnaissance and national defense,” Mary Beth Long said in a prepared statement. 

Red Cat Holdings is publicly traded on the NASDAQ, though Red Cat stock is down roughly 46% over the past year.

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