The global market for military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is expected to witness a slight decline in the medium term due to the reduction in spending by the United States but demand from Europe and Asia-Pacific will sustain the market, according to Frost & Sullivan.
In its Global Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Market Assessment, Frost & Sullilvan finds that the market earned revenues of $3.87 billion in 2013 and estimates this to reach $5.26 billion in 2022. The study covers vehicle platforms (>25kg MTOW) and support in service, but does not include RDT&E spending.
“The successful deployment of unmanned systems in Iraq and Afghanistan has generated global awareness on UAVs, triggering investments in R&D, and in turn, widening the spectrum of UAV applications,” said Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defence Principal Consultant Aman Pannu. “Demand, especially for tactical and tactical small UAVs, will primarily emerge from countries that are new to developing and employing UAV capabilities.”
Medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs continue to be the most lucrative segment. Although high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs are on the wish list of many countries, they remain unaffordable for most. This lack of commercially feasible technologies curbs large-scale UAV purchases.
Budget cuts that often lead to programme delays or even cancellations also hamper UAV procurements. The recent termination of the German HALE programme, EuroHawk, is a prime example. To sustain profits, suppliers must diversify their portfolios to include sub-systems and services, Frost & Sullivan said.
“Equipment vendors need to scout for opportunities in high-potential regions such as the Middle East and Asia-Pacific to strengthen their position on a world scale,” suggested Pannu. “Using the equipment rental and leasing model to market their products in sceptical and cost-conscientious countries will help UAV manufacturers generate further revenues in the global arena.”
Frost & Sullivan added that the launch of next-generation UAVs, with longer endurance and advanced propulsion systems such as fuel cells and solar power, will cement the future of the global UAV market.