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Airborne Surveillance Market Size, Share & COVID-19 impact Analysis, By Component (Radars, Sensors, Imaging System, Others), By Technology (Unmanned System, Manned System), By Platform (Fixed-Wing Aircraft, Rotary-Wing Aircraft, UAV), By Application (Commercial, Military & Government), and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Last Updated :April 01, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102590



The global airborne surveillance market size was USD 4.74 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow from USD 5.07 billion in 2021 to USD 7.70 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 6.14% in the 2021-2028 period. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with airborne surveillance witnessing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market had shown a rise of 2.20% in 2020 as compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019.


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Airborne surveillance is used for monitoring activities and behavior in the surrounding. The investigation is carried out from airborne vehicles such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, and Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft. Rapid advances in aerial surveillance hardware such as Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR), high-resolution imagery, and Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) that are capable of identifying objects at very long range are driving the market growth

High Demand for Surveillance Drones to Decrease Spread of COVID-19 to Support Growth

The COVID-19 virus has spread swiftly across the world. Most countries took measures by implementing a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. However, in some areas, individuals did not follow restrictions. This led law and enforcement authorities to come up with a drone surveillance solution. The U.S. Police Departments have started using drones to monitor people’s movement in a vast area without physical engagement. The use of drones mainly for investigation originated in countries such as Spain and China. 

Moreover, various UAV manufacturers are developing special drones that will identify COVID-19 symptoms in the crowd. 

  • For instance, in April 2020, Draganfly Inc., a U.S.-based UAV manufacturer, developed a “Pandemic Drone” equipped with a special sensor and computer vision system. It is able to display temperature, pulses, respiratory rates and identifies people coughing and sneezing in crowds. The technology was tested by the Westport Police Department.

Thus, demand for drone surveillance has increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is expected to support the market growth.


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Successful Integration of IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning is a Vital Industry Trend

Industry trends such as drones are gaining attention from various sectors for surveillance operations. Technological advancements in cameras, micro-controllers, sensors, processors, etc., have upgraded the drone product portfolio. The companies are developing inbuilt annotation and measurement tools that can calculate volume, area, and distance. With the help of AI, IoT, and machine learning, the UAVs manage to store and analyze a huge amount of data.

  • In July 2020, Skydio Inc. developed an AI-enabled drone Skydio X2 that can be used for situational awareness, security patrol, and asset inspection.


Rising Adoption of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in Military Applications to Boost Growth

Drones in the military gather information about military missions with the help of their Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities on a real-time basis. An increase in the procurement of UAVs to enhance defense capabilities is expected to fuel the airborne surveillance market growth.

Moreover, the increasing defense budget is expected to augment the market growth owing to the rising need for advanced intelligence gathering and analyzing capabilities.

  • According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the global military defense spending had surpassed USD 1.9 trillion in 2019. 

  • In May 2021, General Dynamics Mission Systems and Voyager Aviation Corporation were awarded a contract worth USD 72 million by the Government of Canada for in-service support and maintenance of the 3 King Air 350ER aircraft. The aircraft are to be integrated with military-grade advanced sensors and other equipment to improve situational awareness. The three aircraft are expected to be delivered to the Government of Canada by 2022.

Availability of Low-cost Drones is expected to Increase Drone Surveillance Operations

Conventional aerial surveillance methods use fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. These are time-consuming and costly practices. The cost of drones is less and takes less time for operations as compared to the other aircraft. Thus, a rise in the procurement of drones for surveillance applications has been observed owing to the low price and efficient results. Moreover, rapid industrialization and automation in the manufacturing industry have decreased the production cost of drones. Thus, drones are available in abundance at a low price, which is expected to augment the market growth.


High Cost Involved in Deployment of Airborne Surveillance System to Hamper Growth

The aerial surveillance system consists of sensors, radars, cameras, and other components. The advanced sensors are capable of providing accurate information. However, it is expensive to develop the sensors due to their complicated design. The components are exposed to critical environmental conditions; hence the design is complicated, which increases its cost. Light detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor is widely adopted owing to its remarkable investigation capabilities. However, the development cost of the sensors is high. Thus, hampers the market growth.


By Component Analysis

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Radar Segment to Dominate Owing to Rising Use in Military Airborne Surveillance Systems

Based on the component, the market is segmented into radars, sensors, imaging systems, and others. 

The radar segment is anticipated to dominate the market owing to the rising use of radar systems for surveillance in security, defense, and military applications. 

The sensor segment is anticipated to grow at a higher CAGR owing to the growing adoption of LiDAR sensors in commercial drones

The imaging system segment is anticipated to grow significantly through the forecast period due to the surging demand for visual surveillance data in image or video format.

The military aerial surveillance systems are driving the demand for radars and imaging systems. Commercial drones are driving the demand for sensors and imaging systems. Furthermore, the increasing investment in developing advanced radars, sensors, and cameras is expected to aid the market growth.

  • For instance, in December 2020, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) was awarded a contract worth USD 93.3 million by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for the development of advanced UAV sensors

By Technology Analysis

Unmanned Systems Segment to Grow at High CAGR Due to Rising Adoption of UAVs in Military Applications

Based on the technology, the market is segmented into manned systems and unmanned systems.

The manned system segment held the largest market share in 2020 owing to an increase in procurement of AEW&C aircraft by the military of several countries. 

  • In April 2021, the Boeing Company signed a contract worth USD 1.6 billion with the U.S. Navy for the production of 11 P-8A Poseidon AEW&C aircraft. This deal will procure nine aircraft to the U.S. Navy fleet, and two aircraft will go to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

The unmanned system is expected to be the fastest increasing segment during the forecast period. Surging usage of UAVs in both commercial and military applications is driving the growth of the unmanned system segment.

  • In January 2021, the Indian Army signed a contract with IdeaForge to procure its SWITCH unmanned air vehicles worth USD 20 million. The SWITCH UAV is a fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV. It is designed in a way that it could be deployed at high elevations and tough environments for surveillance missions.  

UAVs are being updated with LiDAR technology for applications in the forestry, mining, surveying, and agriculture sector

By Platform Analysis

UAV Segment to Grow Exponentially Due to Surging Adoption of Drones for Surveillance

Based on the platform, the market is segmented into fixed-wing aircraft, rotary-wing aircraft, and UAVs.

The fixed-wing segment was estimated to hold a higher market share in 2020 owing to increased procurement of airborne early warning & control aircraft by the defense sector of various countries.

The UAV segment is expected to grow at high CAGR during the forecast period due to the surging adoption of drones for military and commercial applications such as agricultural investigation, terrain mapping, and others.

By Application Analysis

Military and Government Segment to Lead the Market Due to High Demand for ISR

Based on the application, the market is divided into commercial and military & government. 

The military & government segment held a major share of the market in 2020. The dominance of the segment is due to the increasing need for border security and safety by various countries such as the U.S., China, India, and others. The military & government segment is further classified into search & rescue, law enforcement, border surveillance, and ISR & targeting. Rising cross-border conflicts and geopolitical tensions are encouraging governments of various countries to upgrade surveillance capabilities of military defense and security. 

  • In August 2020, the Indian Government signed an agreement to procure two Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) worth USD 1 billion for the Indian Air Force from Israel. The government has decided to procure the aircraft to strengthen surveillance in high-altitude eastern Ladakh.

The commercial segment is expected to grow at a high compound annual growth rate throughout the forecast period owing to the rising usage of drones for various commercial applications such as agriculture monitoring, terrain mapping, and surveying. The commercial segment is further divided into agriculture & forestry, inspection & monitoring, engineering, surveying & mapping, and others. The rising demand for smart agriculture is expected to increase the demand for UAS for agricultural surveillance purposes.

Moreover, aerial surveillance is also used in wildlife conservation.

  • Recently, the Republic of India and the Government of Assam have partnered with Tata Consulting Services (TCS) to conduct surveillance operations using drones in Kaziranga National Park. 

Furthermore, a rise in the use of drones for surveying & mapping for planning and construction of roads, railways, etc., is fueling the market growth. 


North America Airborne Surveillance Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The global market is segmented based on regions into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world.

The North American market stood at USD 1.69 billion in 2020. North America is anticipated to hold higher share in the global market owing to the presence of major players such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, L3 Harris Technologies Inc., and others in the region. The United States has a huge defense budget leading to surging demand for airborne surveillance systems from the defense sector.

Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest-growing region in the airborne surveillance market. The growth is due to the increasing awareness of the benefits offered by UAV. Moreover, the increasing demand for aerial investigation from the military and defense sectors of countries such as China and India is expected to drive the market in the region.

Europe is expected to witness significant growth owing to the increasing investment by European Countries such as France and Germany in UAV LiDAR technology. The airborne surveillance market share of Europe region is estimated to grow at moderate levels throughout the forecast period.

The market in South America and the Middle East & Africa is expected to grow substantially due to the rising demand for aerial investigation systems owing to the developing infrastructure.


Key Players Are Focused on Providing Cost-effective Surveillance Solutions to Customers

Saab AB is a leading player in developing aerial surveillance aircraft. The company’s products include Global Eye AEW&C aircraft, Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C, and PS-05/A Fighter Radar. Other key market players manufacture components of the airborne surveillance systems such as radars, sensors, cameras, etc. The key component manufacturers include Lockheed Martin Corporation, L3harris Technologies Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, and others. These players are focused on the development of efficient and low-cost radars.


  • Lockheed Martin Corporation (U.S.)

  • L3Harris Technologies Inc. (U.S.)

  • Northrop Grumman Corporation (U.S.)

  • Teledyne FLIR LLC (U.S.)

  • Reutech Radar Systems (South Africa)

  • Thales Group (France)

  • Saab AB (Sweden)

  • Cobham PLC (U.K.)

  • Leica Geosystems (Switzerland)


  • March 2021 – TerraSense Analytics was awarded a contract worth USD 977,439 through the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program for the development of Multimodal Input Surveillance & Tracking (MIST) advanced airborne surveillance system.

  • March 2021 – HENSOLDT, a sensor manufacturing company, has successfully passed the Factory Acceptance Test of its new airborne multi-mission surveillance radar PrecISR.

  • January 2021 – Saab Ab was awarded a five-year follow on a contract worth USD 1.018 billion to deliver two GlobalEye systems to the United Arab Emirates


An Infographic Representation of Airborne Surveillance Market

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The market report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects such as key players, components, technology, platform, and application of airborne surveillance. Moreover, the market research report offers insights about the market trends, market segmentation, competitive landscape, market competition, product pricing, market status and highlights key industry developments.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



Value (USD Billion)


Component, Technology, Platform, Application, and Geography

By Component

  • Radars

  • Sensors

  • Imaging System

  • Others

By Technology

  • Unmanned System

  • Manned System


By Platform

  • Fixed-Wing Aircraft

  • Rotary-Wing Aircraft

  • UAV


By Application

  • Commercial

    • Agriculture and Forestry

    • Inspection and Monitoring

    • Engineering, Surveying, and Mapping

    • Others

  • Military & Government

    • Search & Rescue

    • Law Enforcement

    • Border Surveillance

    • ISR Targeting

By Geography


  • North America (By Component, Technology, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • U.S. (By Application)

    • Canada (By Application)

  • Europe (By Component, Technology, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • U.K. (By Application)

    • Germany (By Application)

    • France (By Application)

    • Russia (By Application)

    • Rest of Europe (By Application)

  • Asia Pacific (By Component, Technology, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • China (By Application)

    • India (By Application)

    • Japan (By Application)

    • Australia (By Application)

    • Rest of Asia Pacific (By Application)

  • Rest of the World (By Component, Technology, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • The Middle East & Africa (By Application)

    • South America (By Application)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 4.74 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 7.70 billion by 2028.

Registering a CAGR of 6.14%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2021-2028).

The military segment is expected to lead this market during the forecast period.

Saab AB is the leading player in the global market.

North America dominated the market in terms of share in 2020.

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