The directed energy weapons market is expected to grow at a rate of over 15% during the forecast period.
- The rise in the use of rockets, missiles, unmanned air vehicles, etc., is fueling the growth of the market. Many military laser weapon developers are focusing more on dealing with multiple incoming projectiles at a given time.
- Directed energy weapons offer a more cost-effective, high-speed, highly accurate method to take out 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
Laser Segment Expected to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
Militaries and defense firms are investing in the development and research of kilowatt laser defense systems on a large scale, to provide cover against aerial threats. The market for these laser systems will see a surge in the future, owing to the race between countries, like the United States, Russia, and China, in developing and deploying these systems. For instance, the United States plans to install the laser defense system, HELIOS (High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-Dazzler with Surveillance), on its destroyers from 2021. These systems will enhance the ship defense against hypersonic projectiles that can evade even the sophisticated contemporary missile defense systems. Systems, such as Boeing’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, can be used on multiple ground and sea-based platforms to provide aerial defense, even from small projectiles, such as mortar rounds from a significant distance. Technical innovations in laser weapon system development are leading to threat identification and neutralization from a significant distance beyond visual range, thus, providing tactical advantage to the combat units. One such example is the XN1 LAWS Directed Energy Weapon system, which is designed to serve the aforementioned purpose, and its cost of firing nearly USD 2 million per fire, compared to a Patriot missile, which costs nearly USD 3 million per launch. The system is being upgraded to 150 kw to provide longer range. Such developments are expected to help the growth of the market during the forecast period.
North America is Projected to Exhibit the Highest Growth Rate in the Market During the Forecast Period
North America had the largest market share in 2019. Also, the region is projected to exhibit the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The development plans for directed energy weapons by the US are further boosted by the presence of major local defense manufacturers, such as The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Raytheon Company. With support from the government, in terms of development contracts, significant investments are being made by these firms in directed energy weapons system development, which is fueling the growth of the market in the region. For instance, in May 2019, Dynetics and Lockheed Martin together won a USD 130 million contract by beating Raytheon for developing a 100-kilowatt laser weapon system for the US Army. The system will be integrated with less bulky tactical vehicles that will reduce the dependence on the currently deployed heavy expanded mobility tactical vehicles, and the system testing will begin in 2022. The country is also focusing on the development of other types of directed energy weapons. In 2019, Pentagon announced plans for the testing of particle beam weapons in space by 2023. However, despite healthy investments and research, the testing may get pushed further by a few years, due to various technical issues. On the other hand, in 2019, the US Airforce obtained the first prototype of the PHASER microwave weapon system for USD 16.8 million, and the testing and trials of the system are expected to be completed by December 2020, making it ready for deployment in overseas locations. Such developments are expected to further bolster the market prospects during the forecast period.
The market is moderately consolidated, with players, such as MBDA, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Rheinmetall AG, The Boeing Company, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Limited, dominating the market. The market is witnessing collaborations between various defense manufacturers, platform manufacturers, and technological firms. Innovations in multiple kilowatt laser combination techniques, beam control technology for energy adjustment, and use of artificial intelligence are currently being focused upon. For instance, in February 2020, Israel’s prominent defense manufacturer, Rafael, tested its Drone Dome C-UAS (counter unmanned aerial system), with the high-powered laser beam successfully carrying out detection, identification, and interception of multiple aerial targets, like drones. Such developments are expected to help the prospects for the players in the years to come.
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