The directed energy weapons market is projected to register a CAGR of more than 14% during the forecast period (2021-2030).
The directed energy weapons market is not impacted directly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the defense investments of the countries toward the development of directed energy weapons are anticipated to decrease over the short term, as the priorities of the governments are currently aligned toward the development of healthcare infrastructure.
The rapid increase in the military expenditure of developed and emerging countries due to increasing geopolitical tensions is accelerating the procurement of new air, land, and sea platforms. The armed forces are investing in the integration of advanced weapon systems such as directed energy weapons on board the vehicles, which is driving the growth of the market.
The increasing threat of rockets, missiles, unmanned air vehicles, etc., is accelerating the development and deployment of directed energy weapons. Currently, the majority of the countries are working on the integration of counter-UAV laser systems into their armed forces, which can be later scaled into complete air defense systems.
Directed energy weapons offer a more cost-effective, high-speed, highly accurate method to counter aerial threats compared to using a highly expensive missile to destroy moderate-level threats, like small drones. Such factors are driving the growth of the market.
Key Market Trends
Sea Segment Accounted for Highest Share by Revenue in 2020
The sea segment currently accounts for a majority share in the directed energy weapons market. This is mainly due to the plans of various governments to introduce directed energy weapons onboard combat ships like destroyers and frigates to neutralize enemy ships, UAVs, and missiles. The US Navy has been investing in the induction of directed energy weapons onboard the fleet of naval vessels for more than five years. The High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP), the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN), Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM), and the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) (also known as the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS)) are some of the major US Navy’s laser weapon programs. As of April 2021, the US Navy installed the laser weapons onboard five destroyers under the HELIOS program. Similarly, the European Defense Agency (EDA) began a study for the installation of directed energy weapons onboard naval ships against unmanned vehicles. The deployment of DEWs onboard naval vessels is expected to drive the growth of the market during the forecast period.
North America Region Advancing Rapidly in the Development and Procurement of Directed Energy Weapons
The North American region currently dominates the market due to the robust investment of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to integrate the directed energy weapon technology into the army, navy, and air force. Over the past few years, the government has signed contracts with various directed energy manufactures like Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Boeing to develop and deploy directed energy weapons. For instance, under the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration Program, the Air Force Research Laboratory planned to develop new laser systems that can be mounted onboard fighter jets to mitigate the threat of incoming missiles. Under the program, Lockheed Martin was selected by the US Air Force in 2017 with a contract of USD 26.3 million to design and develop a fiber laser. Initially, the laser was planned to be tested in 2021. However, later the Air Force Research Laboratory announced to test the fully developed system by 2024. Similarly, as of March 2021, the US Air Force began the testing of the High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS), which was mounted onboard military vehicles to counter UAVs. The high-energy laser weapon system was delivered as a part of a USD 23.8 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory in 2019 to deliver two HELWS prototypes. Later in 2020, the company was awarded another contract worth USD 13.1 million for one additional HELWS. Such deployment plans of the armed forces are anticipated to propel the growth of the market.
Some of the prominent players in the directed energy weapons market are MBDA, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Rheinmetall AG, The Boeing Company, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation. In addition to manufacturers of DEW, the market also includes companies like L3Harris Technologies, Inc., QinetiQ Group PLC, and Honeywell International Inc. that provide components to DEW manufacturers. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies Corporation are some of the major providers of DEWs to the armored forces of the United States. Various defense manufacturers, platform manufacturers, and technology firms are entering into collaboration for the development of new and advanced directed energy weapon systems for ground and naval platforms. In this regard, SIGN4L, a subsidiary of UAE conglomerate EDGE, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with MBDA and CILAS, a subsidiary of Ariane Group, in March 2021 to explore the opportunities of high-energy lasers in various domains and activities, such as operational analysis and systems architecture. Similarly, in October 2020, General Atomics and Boeing entered a partnership to develop a new high-energy laser for air and missile defense. In accordance with the agreement, the companies will develop a 100-kilowatt laser that will be scalable to 250 kilowatts that will be deployed as a standalone system or integrated onboard ground vehicles, naval vessels, and aircraft. Such investments in the development of advanced laser weapon systems are anticipated to accelerate the growth of the company in the coming years.
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