The PD-100 Black Hornet drone is the first airborne and commercially available personal reconnaissance system. Photo courtesy of Prox Dynamics
The global military drone market is set to grow from its current market value of more than $5 billion to more than $13 billion by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc.
Growth in the market is credited to increasing investments in drone technology by military and defense departments. Governments around the globe are spending heavily to increase their unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) fleet sizes.
The U.S. federal government has allocated approximately $4.5 billion for drone procurement in its 2017 budget proposal. The proposal indicates a paradigm shift in the technology, as the major drone procurement program was launched, with the funding assigned for new research and development.
Similarly, the government of India has also formed an alliance with General Atomics to deliver 22 sea guardian drones worth approximately $2 billion. The South Korean government has also announced a five-year plan to invest more than $1 billion in the industry for the next five years.
Advancements in the UAS technology will also foster the military drone market growth. The integration of advanced machine-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence in the drones will fuel their demand for traffic monitoring, surveillance and spy applications. For instance, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is using drones for monitoring the Mexican-American border, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are using drones for law enforcement and protection.
Graphic courtesy of Global Market Insights
But safety and security issues associated with the use of drones and stringent government regulations are estimated to hinder the full potential of military drone market growth.
Military drone market adoption for border patrolling applications is gaining momentum due to their capability to effectively monitor borders without serious collateral damages and ensuring the safety of the border security personnel.
In September 2017, the Customs and Border Protection began testing small drones for border surveillance in operational sectors in Arizona, Texas and Vermont. The drones were evaluated for their capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, tracking and acquisition in regions that are high risk for ground personnel and manned aircraft.
In November 2017, the Indian Army accepted tender inquiries for acquiring 600 mini UAS to maintain a strict vigil at its border with China and Pakistan. Due to consistent infiltration bids at the Pakistan border, UAS will be procured for the Indian Army's infantry battalions.
The Asia-Pacific military drone market is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17% during the forecast period. The growth of the market is attributed to the growing demand for the drones from developing economies including India and China. China accounts for more than 50% of the Asia-Pacific market, driven by China's increasing investments for the procurement of the drones. The government is focusing on enhancing the domestic production of drones to reduce the imports from the U.S. For instance, in July 2017 China started the production of the CH5 Rainbow that will cost half as much as the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper.
The global military drone market is characterized by the presence of both major market players with diverse product portfolios and start-ups that provide niche products, solutions and services. The major vendors in the military drone market are Aerovironment Inc., BAE Systems Inc., Boeing, China Aerospace, General Atomic, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., Northrop Grumman, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin and Textron Systems. Moreover, there is stiff competition among innovation leaders as they are characterized by technological advancements to develop improved drone analytics and intelligence solutions as well as strategic alliances.