Visiongain recently released a study about unmanned-aerial-vehicle (UAV) market forecasts from 2014-2024. The data reflects the existing high demand for UAV payloads and subsystems, which is only increasing with new UAVs and possible upgrades. These essentially military devices also drive the market for electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors and intelligence-gathering subsystems. Although defense spending cuts threaten UAV programs, Visiongain predicts UAV payloads will reach $2.91 billion in 2014.
In its report, Visiongain covers the following: UAV total sale values for 20 nations; Aeryon Labs’ report regarding UAV trends in these leading nations and market details; and six submarkets. Those submarkets include EO/IR, radar, intelligence, detection, communication, and navigation. London-based Sara Peerun, Visiongain’s Commercial Director, offers more-detailed information about this report.
SM: What is dictating the demand for new UAVs?
SP: In general, interest remains strong in unmanned systems. Countries that already have fleets of UAVs, such as the US, or those with a growing capability, such as a number of European nations, are looking to develop and acquire more capable UAVs. There are also several countries in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East who are keen to build up their own UAV fleets. This interest, however, must also face up to the reality of reduced defense budgets in a number of key markets.
SM: What is your advice to someone looking to invest in the UAV payloads and subsystems market?
SP: UAVs are only as good as the sensors and subsystems on them. There is already stiff competition among established companies that supply sensors and other subsystems to known UAV programs. Companies that want to enter this sector would be well served if they can develop sensors that bring new capabilities or are able to provide current capabilities at lower costs.
SM: Can you explain how you concluded the sales forecast for the UAV market?
SP: Visiongain examined a broad range of primary and secondary data for forecasting. This involved reviewing current UAV inventories and capability gaps in leading national markets, the status of current UAV programs, and expected future requirements. Based on these, Visiongain made projections on expected spending by governments in the leading national markets on the subset of UAV payloads and subsystems.
SM: What was Aeryon Lab’s greatest conclusion?
SP: In Aeryon Labs’ case, they expressed optimism about the future of high-resolution optics and how their networked digital system can extract information needed by end users. They also showed interest in the ability to do more complex routing that will allow different video feeds to different users. Aeryon Labs expects EO/IR payloads to remain the main application in terms of UAV payloads and subsystems.
SM: Can you describe issues facing stakeholders in the market?
SP: As with most defence sectors, decreased budgets in European and North American countries continue to be a key issue. The winding down of NATO-led operations in Afghanistan also makes new procurements less urgent than they were before. Reduced funding, however, is balanced by continuing strong interest in the capabilities provided by UAVs now and in the future as a means of supplementing—or indeed, replacing—some roles performed by manned platforms. These also remain open to innovative technologies that provide new capabilities to UAVs or enhance their performance. This could mean continued support for a substantial part of UAV programs. In other parts of the world, such as Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, a number of key countries are looking to build up their UAV fleets. This would provide increased opportunities to supply UAV payloads and subsystems.