The Asia-Pacific Tactical UAV Market is expected to register a CAGR of over 18% during the forecast period.
- The growth in military spending of several countries in Asia-Pacific is driving the market. Countries in the region, such as China, India, Japan, and South Korea are some of the largest defense spenders globally and are investing huge amounts towards developing their ISR capabilities. This is driving the procurement of tactical UAVs in the region.
- Several countries in the region are developing their own tactical UAV capabilities. The ongoing R&D efforts toward the development of indigenous, advanced tactical UAVs are projected to drive the market growth in the region during the forecast period.
Key Market Trends
Growing Emphasis on the Indigenous Development of Tactical UAVs
There has been a gradual increase in the money spent on the development of advanced tactical UAVs indigenously from the militaries in Asia-Pacific. China’s People’s Liberation Army is increasingly deploying sophisticated, indigenously built unmanned aerial vehicles like GJ-1, GJ-2, WZ-7, WZ-8 into its military, primarily for ISR purposes. On the other hand, India has also been investing in the development of indigenous military tactical UAV programs, despite the fact that the country is currently reliant on countries like Israel for tactical UAVs for military purposes. To satisfy the demand of India’s armed forces, Indian-based R&D organizations, such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have been developing UAVs with ISR, targeting, and weapon guidance capabilities like Rustom and Netra. Likewise, Japan is also planning to develop and deploy its own unmanned surveillance aircraft before 2030. Such a focus on developing tactical UAVs indigenously is expected to enhance the market prospects in the region during the forecast period.
China Held the Largest Market Share in 2019
China accounted for the largest share in the market in 2019. According to SIPRI, China’s defense expenditure witnessed a growth of 5.1 percent to reach about USD 261 billion in 2019. Tactical UAVs are emerging as a key area of focus for China as the development of such UAVs currently has considerable national-level funding and government support. China has already deployed several UAVs over the past decade, which include tactical and strategic UAVs like GJ-1 and GJ-2 MALE UAVs and Soaring Dragon, EA-03, and WZ-7 HALE UAVs. The country has been investing heavily in developing a wide range of unmanned aerial systems, including low-observable and long-range systems that are capable of conducting reconnaissance and strike missions. In August 2019, China’s Xi'an CCKW Development Company displayed a model of a jet-powered tactical drone, called the LJ-I. The aircraft has a stealthy shape and has a radar cross-section of less than 0.02 m². The UAV is 4.74 m (15.6 ft) in length, with a wingspan of 2.5 m. Likewise, in October 2019, China unveiled its high-altitude, high-speed drone, the WZ-8 which, according to the country, can provide more reliable reconnaissance data than satellites. Tactical UAVs are also being used by Chinese law enforcement agencies for aerial surveillance in the country. During the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in China, law enforcement agencies in China used custom-programmed UAVs made by the local player Shenzhen Smart Drone UAV, for disease detection and crowd management. Such developments are expected to help the country continue its dominance in the market during the forecast period.
Elbit Systems Ltd., Israel Aerospace Industries, General Atomics, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation are some of the prominent players in the market. Players are focusing on integrating the technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, stealth, hypersonic propulsion, advanced electronic warfare capabilities, and better avionics into the existing systems, to further enhance the capabilities of the tactical UAVs, which will help them gain new contracts, thereby propelling their growth during the forecast period. Globally renowned tactical UAV manufacturers are partnering with the local players to develop new tactical UAVs. For instance, Israel Aerospace Industries formed a joint venture with the South Korean company Hankuk Carbon to develop and produce surveillance UAVs for both military and civilian applications for South Korea. Such developments are expected to boost the growth of the players during the forecast period.
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