Mature technologies, coupled with increasing consolidation, are making the UAS market a difficult space to enter. These challenges are not likely to hold back the market, especially with the Department of Defense's (DoD's) demand for UAS at an all-time high due to the ongoing war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although the troop withdrawal in Iraq and lower defense budgets could have a long-term negative impact on the UAS market space, the market is expected to increase between 2009 and 2013.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (aerospace.frost.com), U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $3.16 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $3.81 billion in 2013.
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"By focusing on UAS subsystems, the U.S. defense industry will still be able to take advantage of a market space that is rapidly changing both technologically and competitively," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Lindsay Voss. "Six years after the onset of rapid UAS procurement, the U.S. DoD is still demanding more persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets in the air. This ensures growth in the UAS space while many other areas of aerospace and defense are contracting."
Apart from the benefits of lower costs of purchase and operation, unmanned aircraft eliminate the need for an onboard crew, making it easier for the military to tackle more advanced missions. Warfighters are demanding more full-motion video and since unmanned aircraft are the foundation for this vital resource, they are emerging as critical assets in the battlefield.
"From nano and small systems weighing less than 2 pounds to the 10,000 pound Global Hawk, UAS is changing the dynamics of the military aviation market space," notes Voss. "Companies that have traditionally provided manned assets to their military customers can no longer ignore the trend, and many are embracing unmanned aviation."
The overwhelming demand for constant ISR from warfighters has kicked the UAS market into overdrive, stimulating dramatic growth for key UAS companies.
New participants are not likely to find the going as easy as the entrenched competitors. Companies that could provide an 80 percent UAS solution ten years ago dominate the market today across all key platform categories. Market domination by well-established companies has already driven some participants out of the market and forced others to diversify their product and/or service offerings.
"Diversification is proving to be an important strategy as new market participants seek to be profitable in the UAS space," observes Voss. "Companies that are able to offer value to their military customers through current product offerings while expanding into key UAS market sub-segments are improving their competitive positions."
The emergence of vital growth sub-segments such as UAS services and subsystems are creating numerous opportunities for participants, especially with UAS continuing to proliferate in the battle space. Companies will have to make the most of the opportunities in these diversified areas if they wish to solidify their positions in the market.
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Unmanned Aircraft Systems Market / N600