The aerostat systems market is expected to register a CAGR of more than 10% during the forecast period 2020 - 2025.
- The cost of gathering intelligence using manned and unmanned aerial systems is high, primarily due to high operating and maintenance costs. This has resulted in several countries adopting aerostat as an alternative. Aerostat systems require less maintenance and can operate 24/7 for weeks or even months at a time, offering an incredible line-of-sight.
- Other than military applications, aerostats are becoming popular for environmental research and commercial applications, like internet connectivity. Aerostats made by companies, such as Altaeros and Loon LLC, are being used to expand LTE networks and 5G technology in remote areas at a significantly low cost and energy.
- However, the aerostat systems market faces certain challenges and limitations with respect to operational altitude and survivability in adverse weather conditions.
Key Market Trends
The Communication Relay Segment to Exhibit the Highest Growth Rate During the Forecast Period
With the increasing penetration of smartphones in developing economies and rural areas, it has become necessary to provide enhanced and fast Internet connection to harness the full advantages of handheld devices. Modern aerostat systems are capable of carrying communication payloads up to 300 kg to stratospheric heights and can provide connectivity over a vast area by using the existing terrestrial communication spectrum. Aerostat systems are witnessing increasing applications in battlefield communication systems for enhancing the situational awareness of combat units and assets. Aerostat systems are being tested with communication and network relays in combat zones and when used in combination with drones and UAVs, the communication network can be expanded exponentially and remotely located combat units and assets can receive data and information of high quality.
North America to Exhibit the Highest Growth Rate During the Forecast Period
North America held the largest market share in 2019, and it is expected to exhibit the highest growth rate during the forecast period as well. The United States is the largest market for aerostat systems in North America and it is investing heavily in aerostat systems for communication and surveillance purpose. In February 2020, Peraton received a USD 277.5 million contract for Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems (TARS) from the US Department of Homeland Security for low range border and maritime surveillance operations. In August 2019, Drone Aviation Holding Corp. delivered WASP Aerostat systems to the US Border Patrol (United States Custom and Border Protection) for providing operational support service on the southwest borders of the country. Raven Industries also received a USD 10.4 million contract in 2019 for its TIF-25K aerostat systems to be deployed in Afghanistan. Many aerostat manufacturers in the United States are collaborating with telecommunication service providers to provide enhanced telecommunication network quality to users. In February 2019, Altaeros launched the world's first aerial cell tower SuperTower ST200 to provide enhanced 4G LTE networks. In the United States, aerostat systems will also find application in urban drone tracking operations to provide protection to high value assests. In October 2019, DARPA announced that it will be testing the drone tracking technology using sensor based aerostats. Such developments are expected to propel the growth of the aerostat market in North America during the forecast period.
The aerostat systems market is moderately consolidated, as few major players occupy a major share in the market. Some of the prominent players in the market are Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Technologies, Raven Industries, and Israel Aerospace Industries, among others. The aerostat systems have an immense potential for commercial application, especially in the communication category. Many aerostat manufacturers are collaborating with telecom service providers to provide expanded telecom services to operators. Loon LLC partnered with telecom operators, such as Telkom of Kenya, AT&T, Telefonica in Peru, etc., to provide LTE network coverage.
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