Loitering munitions market predicted to grow massively

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Global aerospace and defence company Paramount is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and is confident a study it commissioned will bear out demand for its N-Raven addition to the international loitering munitions market.

Backing Paramount’s bullish outlook is a Defence Insight report on loitering munitions it commissioned and released in London last week to coincide with the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition.

“Our report on the Loitering Munitions market underscores the need for agile, adaptable solutions. That’s why Paramount’s N-Raven is revolutionary – it’s not only a product but a fully -fledged technology transfer platform. It can be produced domestically within a year, fully embracing the idea of portable and indigenous production,” Steve Griessel, Paramount Group Chief Executive Officer, said.

The report highlights multiple, often interlocking, revelations, according to Paramount. Loitering munitions are strategically beneficial due to their versatility and economic efficiency, as seen by participants in the Russo-Ukrainian War utilising low-cost capability to strike high-cost targets at local and national levels.

On the back of these advantages, the loitering munitions market is forecast to expand by 525% between 2020 and 2024, with yearly spending on the capability expected to surpass $600 million in 2023, 2024 and 2025. This growth made loitering munitions the third-largest UAV market in 2021 and 2022 and is forecast to maintain its over eight percent market share of the entire UAV market until 2025.

Regionally, North America is expected to contribute the most expenditure over the decade, with European expenditure on loitering munitions forecast to increase by over 2 000%, rising from 1.39% to 36% between 2021 and 2023. Most spending can be traced to the Russo-Ukrainian War, with nations taking short or long term measures to arm themselves for possible future conflict.

Due to the conflict in Ukraine, short timelines characterise procurements contributing to this expansion.

Evidence is emerging, the Paramount-commissioned report states, of some customers moving to longer term acquisitions and programmes more often awarded to domestically produced systems with producers taking market share from incumbent suppliers. This is forecast to happen in Spain, Germany, and France and has happened in Taiwan, India and the UAE (United Araba Emirates).

“This growth, especially in the European sector, aligns with our strategic direction. Paramount has decades of experience in asymmetrical warfare and we’ve been shaping solutions the world is looking for today. We were at DSEI because we’re more than a manufacturer; we’re focused on IP licensing and global partnerships. Our eyes are set on Europe and the UK (United Kingdom) for pioneering these partnerships,” was Griessel’s take on the future.

Paramount’s N-Raven emerges as a crucial solution when taking the commissioned report’s findings into account. The N-Raven was first announced in 2021. At the time it featured a swept wing and T-tail mounted above the fuselage, but current renders of the propeller-driven munition show a straight wing (with winglets) and V-tail. Paramount said the N-Raven family will feature ‘swarm’ technologies. The N-Raven weighs 55 kg and will have a speed of 180 km/h and loitering endurance of two hours for the electric version, and 4.5 hours for the petrol version, and range of up to 100 km. The munition has a wingspan of 3.6 metres and carries a 13.5 kg payload.

Greek state-owned company Hellenic Defence Systems in May partnered with Paramount to produce its N-Raven as the Irix – this will be the first loitering munition manufactured in the Mediterranean country, for the Greek market as well as export customers. The partnership includes technology and skills transfer for local co-production of Irix as well as Hellenic Defence Systems’ ongoing participation in continued research and development of future Irix system upgrades.

“N-Raven, with its focus on portability and indigenous production, exemplifies our commitment to shaping collaborative defence solutions for today’s rapidly changing scenarios. Our cutting-edge solution provides not just advanced capabilities but also offers economic advantages that align with the findings of our collaborative report,” Griessel said.

In addition to the N-Raven, Paramount offers the Civet, Mwewe and Roadrunner (Meteorite) UAVs. Predecessor company Advanced Technologies and Engineering developed the 75 km range Vulture UAV, which was ordered by the South African Army for artillery spotting and fire control.