Five years ago few would have imagined the U.S. Air Force would enthusiastically announce that it was expanding the number of Predator unmanned air vehicle (UAV) squadrons from three to 15. However, according to Forecast International unmanned vehicles analyst Larry Dickerson, the global war on terrorism has prompted the United States to pump significant amounts of money into its UAV programs.
The Market for UAV Reconnaissance Systems – including air vehicles, ground control equipment and payloads – is expected to be worth $13.6 billion through 2014. “Although the popularity of UAVs continues to grow worldwide, the United States is by far the largest single market,” said Dickerson. “American firms have a value share of more than 50 percent of this market and could gain control of a further 5-10 percent over the next decade,” he added.
The dominance of these American companies can be attributed in part to the large U.S. requirement and the high cost of certain systems it is currently acquiring such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV. “The value of Global Hawk production over the next 10 years could reach $3.5 billion,” Dickerson said. Northrop Grumman believes that sales of the Global Hawk air vehicles could exceed 200 units.
Demand for UAVs also has been growing in Europe. Both France and the United Kingdom are working to expand their UAV fleets. “A shortage of funding is a big problem for European UAV programs,” Dickerson said. Both Sweden and Italy could pull their funding from the Neuron UAV program due to issues that have nothing to do with the merits of the Neuron proposal.
More than 9,000 UAVs are expected to be purchased over the next 10 years by countries in every region of the world. Forecast International does not include funding for RDT&E and operations and maintenance in its analysis, but as procurement increases, money spent in these areas is also likely to increase.
”Thanks to their battlefield successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, money is being lavished on UAV programs as never before,” said Dickerson. “Still, UAVs receive only a fraction of the amounts spent on fighter aircraft and tactical missiles,” he said. “Even if current enthusiasm for UAVs in the U.S. and elsewhere should dissipate, overall funding and interest will remain higher than it was before September 11, 2001.”
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Forecast International, Inc., is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics. Based in Newtown, Connecticut, USA, Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments utilized by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide.
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