The air-based Remote Weapon Stations (RWS) market is anticipated to register a CAGR of more than 11% during the forecast period.
- The emergence of new technologies and platforms has transformed the warfare strategies of nations, such as the United States, Russia, and China. These countries have diverted their efforts toward the development of sophisticated and powerful weapons that can severely impact enemy strongholds and help attain a tactical advantage in case of an armed standoff. RWS is being used extensively in current warfare scenarios due to their visual superiority and capability of performing pre-emptive strikes on specific locations.
- However, the market may be deterred by the design challenges faced by system integrators to incorporate advanced features in their product portfolio without compromising on the payload capacity, aerodynamic profile, and range of a delivery platform. Designers are also required to ensure the availability of sophisticated integrated features, cross-compatibility with the advanced optronic sensors and subsystems from other system manufacturers to develop a fully operational RWS, hence rendering a complex outlook to the overall system design. Furthermore, the rapid technological disruption may also result in a feature under development being rendered obsolete even prior to integration into the system, escalating the financial risks for the market players.
Key Market Trends
Sensor Miniaturization Driving Integration of RWS across all Aerial platforms
Asymmetric warfare signifies the use of unconventional methods by the engaged parties to exploit the vulnerabilities of the enemy forces. The ability to mount RWS on different types of aerial platforms, such as drones, is being fostered by the rapid technological advancements that enable miniaturization of the sensors integrated into the electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) systems. The latest RWS models are equipped with powerful thermal and daylight cameras with high magnification and other advanced features, such as gyro-stabilization, for accurate on-the-move engagements. These features render the RWS exceptionally suitable for urban warfare and related operations, thereby driving the demand for air-based RWS. Besides, RWS is currently being used to neutralize threats and counter incoming fire at medium to short-ranges. This has encouraged several nations and respective prime defense contractors to significantly increase R&D investments to enhance their capability of avoiding anti-air weapons through the integration of advanced sensors. These sensors enhance the situational awareness of the pilot and neutralize incoming fire from aerial countermeasures prior to impact.
North America Dominates the Market in 2019
In the North American countries, the United States and Canada are estimated to account for the largest share of the air-based RWS market in 2019. The United States is the leading user of such weapon systems in North America and is currently focusing on upgrading its existing armada. Moreover, the country is a key exporter and consumer of such equipment globally. From 2014 to 2018, the United States enhanced its share of total arms exports to account for 36% of the global arms sales. With potential adversaries, such as Israel, Russia, and China, fielding an increasingly diverse, expansive, and modern range of regional offensive missile systems that can threaten the aerial assets of the US forces, its allies, and partners, the US-based defense contractors are actively expanding and modernizing the capabilities of their RWS portfolio. The US Department of Defense (DoD) aims to integrate the 25mm Gatling gun onboard the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). As of March 2019, the US DoD was conducting the second phase of the trials aimed at further integrating the gun into the airframe during various flight conditions. According to General Dynamics Corporation, the four-barrel 25mm Gatling gun can fire up to 3,300 rounds per minute, to enable the aircraft to perform air-to-air attacks and close-air-support missions to troops on the ground. Since there are several F-35 JSFs scheduled for delivery during the forecast period, such developments are envisioned to drive the growth prospects of the market in focus.
The prominent players in the air-based remote weapon stations market are Elbit Systems Ltd, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, Leonardo SpA, General Dynamics Corporation, BAE Systems plc, and FN Herstal. Vendors are modifying their offerings to enhance current capabilities and introduce revolutionary features as a means to deliver high lethality to their system offerings. This helps introduce highly differentiated products at competitive pricing. Furthermore, strategic collaborations between manufacturers are on the rise to develop sophisticated systems that conform to the design and performance specifications of the end-user defense forces. This is expected to benefit industry stakeholders during the forecast period.
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