The airborne ISR market is anticipated to register a CAGR of over 6% during the forecast period.
- The airborne ISR market is expected to grow moderately, as the usage of ISR is increasing and more countries are adopting the ISR technology for securing their borders.
- Rapid technological developments are breeding disruptive technologies in the defense industry. The increasing use of small unmanned systems for surveillance is further expected to generate demand for electronic components used in ISR missions.
- Advanced data integration with a multi-level comparative analysis to provide data accuracy and management may provide new market opportunities for the airborne ISR market.
Key Market Trends
Unmanned Segment to Experience Highest Growth
The emergence of new technologies and platforms has transformed the warfare strategies of nations such as the US, Russia, and China. UAVs are being used extensively in current warfare scenarios due to their visual superiority and capability of performing pre-emptive strikes and surveillance on specific locations. With the nations trending toward asymmetric warfare, it is expected that UAVs would be deployed in large numbers to collect crucial information that can act as a key decision-making tool. Hence, the nations and prime defense contractors are significantly increasing R&D investments to enhance their airborne ISR capabilities. For instance, in February 2019, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions received a USD 14 million contract to develop a new tactical UAV, Aethon, that is envisioned to be capable of effectively conducting ISR missions. Thus, the increasing adoption of electronic warfare is expected to drive the demand for superior ISR equipment aboard UAVs, in turn, fueling the growth of the unmanned segment of the airborne ISR market.
North America to Continue its Dominance in the Market
The US is one of the leading investors toward the modernization of its defense capabilities. The US aims to foster collaboration between its naval, airborne, space, and land forces. The US is actively fielding ISR drones to curb the rampant incidents of illegal migration and drug trafficking across the US-Mexico border. In 2017, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted 635 missions spanning 5,625 flight hours using the ISR variant of the MQ-9 Predator B drones that are equipped with cameras and sensors to monitor around 100 miles of the US borders at a single point of time. The ongoing Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems Acquisition Program is a multi-year effort to design, develop, and integrate the equipment used on the US Coast Guard’s newest assets, including the national security cutter, offshore patrol cutter, long-range surveillance aircraft (HC-130J), and medium-range surveillance aircraft (HC-144A and C-27J).
The airborne ISR market is highly fragmented, with multiple players, such as General Dynamics Corporation, The Boeing Company, L3Harris Technologies Inc., BAE Systems plc, and Elbit Systems Ltd, accounting for a majority of the market. However, several local players collaborate with the market incumbent firms on regional projects to design and integrate smaller subsystems that effectively serve the specific requirements of the regional end-user defense forces. Vendors are competing based on their in-house manufacturing capabilities, global footprint network, product offerings, R&D investments, and a strong client base. Vendors must provide state-of-the-art systems to airborne ISR integrators to survive and succeed in the intensely competitive market environment. A majority of the defense OEMs integrate thrid party EO/IR equipment onboard their airborne ISR platforms, hence they try to minimize R&D costs of the cross-integration of such systems onboard different platforms.
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