UAV Market to Top $13.6 Billion by 2014
Market research firm Forecast International recently released “The Market for UAV Reconnaissance Systems,” which claims that the total UAV market including air vehicles, ground control equipment and payloads is expected to be worth $13.6 billion through 2014. More than 9,000 UAVs are expected to be purchased over the next 10 years by countries in every region of the world, and Forecast International does not include funding for RDT&E and operations and maintenance in its analysis.
Furthermore, analyst Larry Dickerson notes that “the United States is by far the largest single market… American firms have a value share of more than 50% of this market and could gain control of a further 5-10% over the next decade.”
While UAVs receive only a fraction of the amounts spent on fighter aircraft and tactical missiles, large U.S. requirements spurred by the War on Terror have changed the picture. Throw in aggressive submarine and ship-launched UAV programs, an ambitious future UAV roadmap, and the high cost of advanced systems like the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV (whose production over the next 10 years could reach $3.5 billion and exceed 200 units) and J-UCAS, and the global forecast ends up getting a significant boost.
Demand for UAVs also has been growing in Europe, via platforms like Sperwer and the UK’s Hermes-derived WK450 Watchkeeper; nevertheless, Dickerson cited funding shortages as a big problem for European UAV programs. He especially cited Sweden and Italy’s potential pullout from the Dassault-led J-UCAS competitor Neuron UCAV program as an example.
FOLLOW-UP: Sweden ended up joining the program after all, and so has Spain. Despite the lack of a formal commitment from Italy, the nEUROn UCAV program rolled ahead in February 2006.