Unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), also called as combat drones are used as missiles and other ordnance carriers that do not require the onboard human pilots for the control and operation of the drones. These are featured with remote, real time controlling from distant locations with varying levels of autonomy. Drones were primarily utilized for the patrolling and reconnaissance, however, with the growing requirement and the increased risks involved in the operations, these UAVs were armed and converted for the combat missions.
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Increased life threats in the low success rated missions, UCAVs are expected to find significant applications through the forecast period
These find significant applications for surveillance, artillery fire direction, gathering electronic intelligence (ELINT) data, lasing targets for fighter planes, and post-strike damage assessment. These critical missions have high risks associated with the human lives. Moreover, defense forces find these missions to be significantly important, are however, reluctant to face the loss of human lives. Moreover, utilization of these unmanned combat aerial vehicle also reduces the requirement of additional equipment required for the human pilots such as the cockpit space, ejection seat, flight controls, armor, and environmental controls for oxygen and pressure. This is expected to be the prominent factor driving the demand of these armed UAVs.
Requirement to establish military supremacy, sustain upper hand in the territorial disputed nations, and counter the extremist terrorist activities will drive the UCAV market
Large number of territorial disputes existing between the nations that specifically include the Asia Pacific and the MEA region are expected to fuel the overall demands for development and manufacture. Some of the chief countries involved in territorial disputes that utilize these drones for various operations include China, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Turkey. Some of the major economies that utilize these operational armed drones include Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, UK and the U.S. These countries are increasingly focusing on the development of these UAVs for domestic warfare and counter-insurgency, which are extensively used to monitor disputed areas and enhance the country security at a lower cost. The changing nature of next generation warfare will propel the global unmanned combat aerial vehicle market over the coming years.
Incorporation of artificial intelligence in these drones and development of long range spy combat drones are few key market trends gaining global market traction
In July 2017, U.S. Navy sent out proposals to four defense contractors to the General Atomics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman for modulated reconnaissance requirement while enhancing the proposed unmanned aircraft’s aerial tanking duties. UCAVs with long-ranged striking capabilities are incorporated with Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems into airborne platforms, which are capable of deploying precision-guided munitions, bombs, and missiles. These factors are expected to drive the demands through the forecast period.
Medium-altitude UCAVs was the largest revenue contributor in 2016, is expected to remain the largest revenue contributor over the next few years
In conjunction with the growing requirement for multi-purpose drones, the defense agencies are increasingly emphasizing on the medium-altitude UCAVs development owing to better striking and surveillance capabilities, difficult detection, and high combat sustainability. Moreover, owing to these factors these are expected to dominate the industry through the forecast period.
U.S. is expected to continue its dominance through 2025, primarily owing to the largest defense budget, increased focus on minimal troop casualties, minimize the financial wastage, and increased focus on the development of advanced airborne systems. Moreover the country is also featured with the presence of few major industry participants that include General Atomics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman among many others.
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Industry presence is highly fragmented owing to distributed presence of the major industry participants. Key players in the UCAV market include BAE Systems, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Israel Aerospace Industries, Denel Dynamics, Dassault Aviation, Lockheed Martin, and Elbit Systems.