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01 November 2017

Sizing the Global UAV Market Presents Challenges

Author: Philip Finnegan, Drawn From: World Missiles & UAV Briefing

Sizing the Global UAV Market Presents Challenges

Forecasting the size of the future UAV market is far more problematic, than in other areas of aerospace technology. There are several reasons for this. The most important is that UAVs are a revolutionary new technology. They are not an established technology (such as missiles, combat aircraft, etc.), where there are clearly defined requirements and established bureaucratic organizations that foster their procurement. While there has been a considerable amount of attention to UAVs in the press, and considerable experimentation with UAVs by many armies, there are still an enormous number of unanswered questions about the nature of UAVs and their operation that make any forecasting difficult.

Until recently, the UAV market was relatively small. In the mid-1990s, for example, the market was probably less than $100 million annually worldwide. It has expanded more than ten-fold in less than a decade, and currently about $7 billion is spent annually worldwide on UAVs. Thus, traditional methods of estimating market size, such as extrapolations based on past growth rates, do not offer a plausible method to assess the future market size. To further complicate matters, UAVs have been proliferating, not only in numbers, but also in missions. While UAVs have traditionally been thought of as an intelligence collection platform, in recent years they have expanded into potential combat strike platforms, which could substantially increase their market potential.

About the Author

Philip Finnegan

Philip Finnegan

Phil is Director of Corporate Analysis at Teal Group. He has provided strategic and market analysis for clients in commercial aerospace and defense, including major U.S. and European prime contractors, since joining Teal fifteen years ago.

He also writes and edits Teal's Defense and Aerospace Companies Briefing, which analyzes the performance, outlook and strategies of 50 aerospace and defense companies in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. He is a co-author of the annual World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems with responsibility for UAV companies.

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