Drones (Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles) for Maritime Operation – Thematic Research

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Maritime Drone Market Overview

The global military UAV market was valued at $8 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 7% during 2021-2031. The demand for UAVs is expected to be driven by internal and external security threats, territorial disputes, and modernization initiatives undertaken by armed forces across the world. Countries across the globe are therefore investing in the procurement, research, and development of UAVs.

Unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones, have proliferated rapidly in the naval domain and are becoming a standard tool with a low-cost means of conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Advanced navies seek to enhance their utilization of UAVs in logistic transport and other naval operations such as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), mine counter measure (MCM) and electronic warfare (EW). Future  UAVs  will  be  quite  stealthier,  faster,  highly  advanced equipped  for more  autonomous,  more  lethal,  and  would  be  able  to  deploy  a  large  set  of  mini-UAVs in swarm groups.

Overview of the military UAV market

Overview of the military UAV market

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What are the market dynamics of the military drone market?

Accounting for more than 70% of the global drone market, the government segment, comprising military and law enforcement agencies, was the key demand generator for drones in 2018. Demand for UAVs from military forces will continue to grow as the number of potential applications of drone technologies increases. Drone manufacturers, component suppliers, software integrators, and prospective enterprise users all share a vested interest in collaboration in order to promote the adoption of drone technology.

The majority of today’s UAVs are utilized for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), search and rescue, and constabulary missions. Enhanced capabilities in areas such as endurance, data processing, and communications have broadened ISR UAV use in both defense and intelligence roles. Currently, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAVs have become a new trend for logistic purposes.

To improve flight performance and expand the capabilities of their drones, drone manufacturers are working on scaling drone technology up, on one hand, to deliver greater carrying capacity and endurance and down on the other to deliver low-cost, small footprint drones for surveillance. As UAVs improve in terms of size, weight, and power (SwaP) parameters and also become cheaper to produce, with almost complete autonomous capabilities achievable in the near future, swarming, which is defined as multiple autonomous aircraft networked together, is anticipated to usher in a new era of UAV capabilities, bringing along with it the need to be able to neutralize such attacks by rival parties.

Another segment gaining popularity is drones as a service (DaaS), which refers to the concept of renting drone services on an as-needed basis, rather than having to develop drone capabilities in-house.

What are the market segments of the military drone market?

GlobalData segments the global military drone market into six categories: high altitude long endurance (HALE) UAVs, medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs, tactical UAVs (TUAVs), mini UAVs, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAVs, and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). Of these six segments, GlobalData forecasts that only MUAV and TUAVs will have a negative compound annual growth rate between 2021-2031.

UCAVs are expected to account for the largest share of expenditure globally followed by the MALE segment, HALE, and VTOL are expected to account for the third and fourth largest segments of expenditure and the remaining market share is expected to consist of the TUAV and the MUAV segments.

In terms of end-user, air force users are expected to account for the largest share of expenditure globally followed by the naval users, joint users, army users, and other force users.

What are the segmentations in military drone value chain?

The military drone value chain is segmented into three sectors – sector layer, market layer, and component layer. The sector layer is categorized into government and civilian sectors, which further break down into the market layers. The government sector includes the military and homeland security drone markets, whereas the civilian sector is made up of the commercial and consumer drone markets.

These markets are then further categorized into three broader component layers:

  • Hardware: Recognizes the major companies supplying core drone components.
  • Software: Identifies the top drone software providers and AI integrators.
  • Services: Includes the leading drones as a service (DaaS) provider.

Which are the key companies in the military drone market?

Major companies in the drone market include AeroVironment, Airbus, Boeing (Insitu), DJI, Elbit Systems, and General Atomics.

Military drone market, key companies

Military drone market, key companies

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Market report scope

Market size (Year – 2021) $8 billion
Growth rate CAGR of >7% from 2021 to 2031
Base year for estimation 2021
Forecast period 2021-2031
Key Companies AeroVironment, Airbus, Boeing (Insitu), DJI, Elbit Systems, General Atomics, and others
Key Segments High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs, Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs, Tactical UAVs (TUAVs), Mini UAVs, Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs, and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs)
Key Segments by end-user Air Force Users, Naval Users, Joint Users, and Army Users
Key Value Chain segmentation Sector Layer, Market Layer and Component Layer

This report is a thematic analysis of the military drone market. It provides:

  • Navies and companies, cooperating with universities and research and development centers, have been developing and experimenting with various UAVs for many years and have transitioned some of these efforts into procurement/manufacture programs. There are still many UAV programs under development and at the technology demonstration level.
  • A key driver for the development of drones is to move people away from contested and dangerous environments to avoid casualties, and to extend ISR capabilities.
  • The majority of today’s UAVs are designed for ISR, search and rescue and constabulary missions. Advanced navies seek to enhance their utilization of UAVs in logistic transport and other naval operations such as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), mine counter measure (MCM) and electronic warfare (EW). Future UAVs will be quite stealthier, faster, highly advanced equipped for more autonomous, more lethal, and would be able to deploy a large set of mini-UAVs in swarm groups.

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  • Corporations: Helps CEOs in all industries understand the disruptive threats to their competitive landscape.

  • Investors: Helps fund managers focus their time on the most exciting investment opportunities in global Aerospace & Defense.

  • Whilst most investment research is underpinned by backwards-looking company valuation models, GlobalData’s thematic methodology identifies which companies are best placed to succeed in a future filled with multiple disruptive threats. Compared to all our rival thematic research houses, our unique differentiator is that our thematic engine has a proven track record of predicting leaders and challengers.

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the underlying factors driving demand for UAVs in the top spending countries across the world and identify the opportunities offered by each of them
  • Strengthen your understanding of the market in terms of demand drivers, industry trends, and the latest technological developments, among others.

General Atomics
Northrop Grumman
Elbit Systems
Lockheed Martin
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG)
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)
Ural Civil Aviation Plant (UZGA)
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)
BAE Systems
Harbin Aircraft Industry
Baykar Defense
Dassaut Aviation
Denel Dynamics
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI)
Martin UAV
Leonardo Aero360
Instant Eye

Table of Contents

Executive summary


Technology briefing


Industry analysis

Value chain


Sector scorecards


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Our thematic research methodology

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