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Directed Energy Weapons Market Size, Share & COVID-19 and War Impact Analysis, By Technology (High Energy Laser Technology, High Power Microwave Technology, Particle Beam Weapons, Plasma Weapons, and Sonic Weapons), By Lethality (Lethal and Non-Lethal), By Platform (Land-based DEW, Airborne-based DEW, Ship-based DEW, and Space-based DEW), By Application (Defense and Homeland Security), and Regional Forecasts, 2022-2029

Last Updated: April 01, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI104063



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The global directed energy weapons market size was valued at USD 9.24 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 10.24 billion in 2023 to USD 20.89 billion by 2031, exhibiting a CAGR of 9.48% during the forecast period. Based on the analysis, the global market exhibited an average growth of 2.05% in 2020 as compared to 2019.


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Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) are weapon types of electromagnetic, particle beam, microwave, or sonic technologies that weaponized their energy instead of conventional projectiles to strike their intended target. According to the Congressional Research Service Report, DEW can destroy many electronic systems, including commercial and military systems. They can disorient, hinder, or destroy any electronic system under their electromagnetic cone.


Rise in Operational Requirements of Armed Forces Amid Russia-Ukraine War to Aid Market Growth

The Russia-Ukraine war has triggered seismic repercussions resulting in a refugee crisis, sanctions against Russia a change in geopolitical scenario, and a reinvigorated NATO. Amid the Russia-Ukraine war, countries worldwide are increasing investment and defense expenditures for global hypersonic and directed-energy weapons for self-protection against various threat perceptions.

The U.S. Air Force's Tactical High-power Operational Responder (THOR) was developed by the Armed Forces Research Laboratory. The system utilizes concentrated microwaves to decapitate and destroy airborne targets, notably UAVs. The U.S. Army had also recently finished testing the new DE - DE-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD). Although it is designed as a counter-UAS weapon, DE M-SHORAD has interception capability against rockets, artillery shells, ATGMs, and mortars.

The U.S. Armed Forces are called Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrators (SHiELD). Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are developing this laser-based directed-energy system as a fighter jet-based countermeasure against air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. The war has reinstated the importance of laser-based weapons for collective defense equipment. This war has driven the demand for military modernization programs in Directed Energy (DE) weapons in response to the enhanced threat perception due to the war.


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Investment in Suppression and Destruction of Enemy’s Air Defense (SEAD/DEAD) System by Armed Forces to Drive the Market Growth

According to a report on Multi-Domain Suppression of Enemy Air Defense by the U.S. Army publications, technological advancements in air defense systems have increased the capabilities to counter the suppression and destruction by Air Forces worldwide. During the forecast period, ground forces will require the capabilities to counter the next-generation integrated multi-layer air defense systems to facilitate air superiority to its Air Forces’ assets.

According to military planners and defense experts, conventional blast and fragmentation weapons cannot make a technological breakthrough for future battlefield scenarios. DE weapons are anticipated to be at the forefront of the next-generation weapons technology development programs, which are anticipated to achieve sophistication and technological maturity by the next decade. By the mid-2030s, DE weapons are estimated to meet the performance standards of conventional weapons and current kinetic energy weapons.


High Demand and Adoption Rate of Directed Energy Weapons Owing to Lethality, Precision Strike, and Minimum Indemnity Damage to Drive Market Growth

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, DEW can generate minimum to no indemnity damage to physical structures in the surroundings or the line of sight. This feature suits them best for urban warfare, skirmishes, or potent air defense systems. According to the CRS Report on U.S. Army Weapons-Related Directed Energy Programs, Directed Energy Weapons Programs are in the promising phases, which are the U.S. Navy’s LaWs (Laser Weapon System) program, the U.S. Army’s C-RAM (Counter Rockets, Artillery, and Mortars) Program, and SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) Program.

For instance, in April 2022, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced that it demonstrated its new IRON BEAM laser-based air defense system for the Israeli Armed Forces, which is capable of intercepting missiles, rockets, anti-tank missiles, and unmanned aerial systems. Market players, such as Northrop Grumman Corporation, Boeing Defense, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation, have been engaged in developing advanced and next-generation HELWS (High Energy Laser Weapon Solutions) coupled with state-of-the-art sensor arrays. This emphasis will provide cost-effective and highly precise countermeasures to mitigate counter-UAS requirements.

Efficiency against Hypersonic Projectiles and Elimination of Periodic Ammunition Procurement to Bolster Market Growth

Amid the advent of hypersonic projectiles, there is a burgeoning demand for efficient deterrence coupled with simultaneous multiple target acquisition & destruction capability by armed forces worldwide. For instance, in August 2022, the U.S. Navy announced that it is in the developmental phase of directed energy systems as a credible potential defense against hypersonic projectiles. The U.S. Navy has installed the Lockheed Martin HELIOS (High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance) system on USS Preble. This weapon system will be the more potent laser weapon system under the system acquisition contract delivery by Lockheed Martin Corporation. This contract is expected to drive the U.S. Navy toward installing directed energy weapons systems on the warships for actual combat and system trials.

The advent of these weapons is anticipated to reduce the high costs incurred by armed forces and governments worldwide to maintain, defuse, and destroy conventional ammunition. This development will eliminate the periodic ammunition procurement by armed forces worldwide. For instance, in December 2021, according to U.S. Congress publications, Congress passed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. The Act is anticipated to empower the Missile Defense Agency to research and develop high-energy laser technologies to counter hypersonic and ballistic missile defense applications and eliminate Ammunition Procurement Programs by the Armed Forces.


Technological Constraints in the Development Owing to the High Investment and Complex Operational Requirement for RDT&E to Hamper Market Growth

According to the Congressional Research Report on U.S. Army Weapons-Related Directed Energy (DE) Programs, some developmental challenges and significant constraints are relevant to DEW Development Programs despite the extollation of potential virtues by various military experts and defense officials. These restraints include issues relevant to cooling of high energy laser (HEL) systems, developmental issues related to a sufficient power supply to DEW, DEW attenuation due to weather, terrain, and/or obscurants, the shortcomings of an indirect fire capability, and limitations in HEL systems’ operational range.

Other restraining factors, such as collateral damage to friendly forces and prevention susceptibility to relatively inexpensive or simple countermeasures, are anticipated to hamper the market growth. Potential restraining factors, such as the incapability of DE weapons to ensure the destruction of enemy ground and aerial vehicles, will hamper the adoption of the DEW. Currently, DE weapons can interfere, disable or destroy electronic subsystems that are easily replaceable and don’t wholly hamper enemy warfighting capabilities. These factors are anticipated to drive the armed forces’ future implications in terms of capabilities such as operational and logistical.  


By Technology Analysis

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High Energy Laser to Record Heightened Demand Due to Burgeoning Operational Requirement by Armed Forces Worldwide

By technology, the market is divided into high-energy laser technology, high-power microwave technology, particle beam weapons, plasma weapons, and sonic weapons.

High energy laser technology segment is estimated to be the largest and fastest-growing segment, with a market share in 2021. The high demand for high-energy laser technology and technological advancement in laser technology are anticipated to propel the market growth during the forecast period. Increasing application of high-energy laser technology in directed energy weapons is projected to drive the segmental market growth during 2022-2029.

High power microwave technology segment is estimated to be the second-largest segment with market share during the forecast period. The high adoption rate of high-power microwave technology for land and sea is anticipated to drive market growth during the forecast period.

The particle beam weapons segment is estimated to have a moderate CAGR during the projection period. The high adoption rate of particle beam weapons in land, sea, and air applications is anticipated to drive market growth during the forecast period.

The plasma weapons segment is anticipated to grow significantly during the forecast period. High investment in R&D and increasing adoption of plasma weapons on land, sea, and air are anticipated to grow during the forecast period. Sonic weapons segment is anticipated to grow at sluggish growth during the forecast period owing to the slow adoption rate of sonic weapons by homeland security forces worldwide.

 By Lethality Analysis

High Adoption Rate of Lethal DEW Across All Platforms to Drive Segmental Market Growth 

Based on lethality, the market is classified into lethal and non-lethal. Lethal segment is estimated to be the largest segment with market share in 2021. The segment is projected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period owing to the high adoption rate of lethal DEW by armed forces worldwide and the emphasis on destroying enemy military assets.

The non-lethal segment is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to the rise in R&D investment by countries worldwide for homeland security, peacekeeping forces, and paramilitary forces. 

By Platform Analysis

Rise in R&D Investment in Airborne Directed Energy Weapons to Aid Segmental Market Growth

By platform, the market is classified into land-based, airborne-based, ship-based, and space-based DEW. The land-based DEW segment is considered the largest segment with market share in 2021 and during the forecast period. Militaries worldwide have invested in R&D through their defense budget allocation for their respective governmental services or agencies. High demand for clandestine target engagement devices and R&D is projected to drive market growth during the forecast period.

Airborne-based DEW is anticipated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. The high adoption rate for various air defense applications for aerospace is anticipating market growth. Governmental investment in aircraft fleets and electronic warfare weapon systems in air defense is anticipated to drive market growth during the forecast period.

The ship-based DEW segment is evaluated to grow significantly during the forecast period. The increasing adoption of aircraft carriers is anticipating market growth. Navies worldwide emphasize replacing conventional close-in weapons systems with advanced DE weapons and counter-UAS capabilities for future operational requirements amid the rising threat of drone-swarming technology and the increased utility of electronic warfare technologies.

Space-based DEW segment is anticipated to drive the market with a considerable CAGR during the projection period. The increasing attention toward research and development programs of space-based DEW is anticipating market growth during the 2022-2029 period.

By Application Analysis

Rise in Utility of Non-Lethal DEWs to Drive Directed Energy Weapons Market Growth During Forecast Period

By application, the market is divided into defense and homeland security. The defense segment is considered the largest segment with directed energy weapons market share in 2021 and is anticipated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. Armed forces worldwide and key market players have been investing and adopting the next-generation DE weapons through their federal budget allocation for their respective armed forces amid the rise in national security threats.

The homeland security segment is estimated to grow at a significant CAGR during the projection period. The high adoption rate of DEWs for various homeland security applications drives the market during the forecast period. Governmental investment in homeland security protection systems and protection against various threats is anticipated to drive market growth during the forecast period.


High Developmental Costs and Lack of Sizeable Budgetary Allocation Drove the Market Growth During the Pandemic

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in average growth of the directed energy weapons market during the analysis period. This growth is owing to the modernization and technological breakthroughs in high-energy laser technology programmes worldwide during the historic period. However, the pandemic has impacted the allocated budgets by countries worldwide to support the raging pandemic during the 2020-2021 period.

According to Raytheon Technologies Corporation, the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing economic recovery had considerably impacted the distribution capabilities and global supply chain. The company has experienced a negative impact due to supply chain pressures, human resources, product shortages, and increased raw materials, services, supplier products, and labor costs.

According to the Policy Department for External Relations – European Union Parliament, the pandemic and gradual economic crisis hadn’t impacted the market significantly as there had been no communiqué on defense expenditure cuts at the EU Member State level. The EU Member States had expressed commitment to adhere to their military expenditure and maintain or even increase it. The decision helped to sustain and strengthen the defense capabilities of EU Member States in the short term.

Defense manufacturers, in their declarations, had announced that they are working on -

  • Critical, highly skilled workforce maintenance, and sustenance

  • Vulnerability identification of crucial suppliers in short or mid-term

  • Adequate liquidity for the company and key suppliers

  • Alternative supply chain strategies such as new suppliers and vertical integration


North America Directed Energy Weapons Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)

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Based on region, the global market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.

North America dominated the market in 2021 and is projected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. There is a high federal budget allocation for new-generation electronic warfare weapons for protection against various threats for land, sea, and air defense applications. Moreover, the high adoption rate of laser-based technology weapon systems is driving the market growth during the 2022-2029 period.

The Europe-directed energy weapons market size is considered the second-largest region during the forecast period. European Union member states have invested in the next-generation high-energy laser technology across land, naval, and airborne platforms. This development is expected to positively impact the market growth in the region during the 2022-2029 period.

The Asia Pacific market is anticipated to grow at the highest CAGR during the projection period. The growth is attributed to the burgeoning R&D investment in the directed energy technological capabilities by global and regional market players and the high adoption rate for defense and homeland security applications. Also, the rise in investment by regional countries has driven the development of directed energy systems through budgetary allocation to state-owned enterprises.

The Middle East & Africa region is expected to show an average market growth with a significant CAGR during the forecast period. Regional countries, such as Turkey and Iran, are in various phases of the RDT&E process, which is expected to bolster market growth during the projection period.

The Latin America region is anticipated to grow at a slower growth rate during the forecast period owing to the lack of a sizable budgetary allocation and demand for directed energy weapons programs. The rise in homeland security is anticipated to drive market growth during the projection period.


The market is highly fragmented with various regional players. The top five directed energy weapons players are Lockheed Martin Corporation, BAE Systems Plc, L3Harris Technologies Inc., Leonardo SpA, and Northrop Grumman Corporation, which comprise a major share of the market.



  • July 2022 – Elbit Systems Limited was awarded a contract worth USD 80 million to provide IR-PAWS (Infrared-based Passive Airborne Warning Systems) EW systems and C-MUSIC directed infrared countermeasures to an undisclosed Asia Pacific country. This contract will be fulfilled within the next two years.

  • November 2021 – General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems and The Boeing Company have been awarded a contract worth USD 69.6 million by the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to develop and demonstrate a 300 kW high-energy laser weapon system against emerging and existing UAV and other aerial threats. These systems will be mounted on fixed or semi-fixed military assets for future operational requirements of the U.S. Army.

  • September 2021 – KBR declared its technical demonstration of the first DE M-SHORAD (Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense) Combat Shoot-Off (CSO) user trial operations in collaboration with the U.S. Army on Stryker Armored Vehicles-mounted system for combat capability requirement evaluations.

  • September 2021 – The U.K. Ministry of Defense declared that the Ministry had awarded a contract worth USD 100.32 million under Project Tracey as a part of the U.K. Government’s Novel Weapons Programme to the U.K. industry consortia headed by BAE Systems Plc, Thales U.K. Ltd., and Raytheon U.K. Ltd. Project Tracey will include the development, demonstration, and production of future High-Energy Laser DEW along with three directed energy weapon demonstrators. These demonstrators are high-energy laser weapon demonstrators onboard Type 23 frigate, Wolfhound armored vehicle-mounted demonstrators, and ground-based demonstrators mounted on MAN SV trucks.

  • January 2021 – Germany’s BAAINBw (German Armed Forces Equipment, InfoTech, and In-Service Support Federal Office) awarded a contract to a consortium headed by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH and MBDA Deutschland GmbH to work on the research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) of high-energy laser weapon demonstrator onboard Germany Navy F-124 Sachsen frigate.


An Infographic Representation of Directed Energy Weapons Market

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The research report analyzes various aspects, such as key players, product offerings, and end-users of directed energy weapons. Moreover, the report offers insights into advanced technologies, market trends, competitive landscape, market competition, product pricing, the market status, and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, it encompasses several direct and indirect factors that have contributed to the sizing of the global market in recent years.




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Estimated Year


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Value (USD Billion)


By Technology, Lethality, Platform, Application, and Region

By Technology

  • High Energy Laser Technology

  • High Power Microwave Technology

  • Particle Beam Weapons

  • Plasma Weapons

  • Sonic Weapons

By Lethality

  • Lethal

  • Non-Lethal

By Platform

  • Land-based DEW

  • Airborne-based DEW

  • Ship-based DEW

  • Space-based DEW

By Application

  • Defense

  • Homeland Security

By Region

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

    • U.S. (By Technology)

    • Canada (By Technology)

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

    • U.K. (By Technology)

    • Germany (By Technology)

    • France (By Technology)

    • Russia (By Technology)

    • Rest of Europe (By Technology)

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

    • China (By Technology)

    • India (By Technology)

    • Japan (By Technology)

    • South Korea (By Technology)

    • Australia (By Technology)

    • Singapore (By Technology)

    • Rest of Asia Pacific (By Technology)

  • Middle East & Africa (By Technology, By Lethality, By Platform, By Application, and By Country)

    • Turkey (By Technology)

    • Israel (By Technology)

    • Saudi Arabia (By Technology)

    • UAE (By Technology)

    • South Africa (By Technology)

    • Rest of Middle East & Africa (By Technology)

  • Latin America (By Technology, By Lethality, By Platform, By Application, and By Country)

    • Mexico (By Technology)

    • Brazil (By Technology)

    • Rest of Latin America (By Technology)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 8.54 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 17.43 billion by 2029.

Registering a CAGR of 9.48%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2022-2029).

Based on technology, the high energy laser technology segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, BAE Systems Plc, L3Harris Technologies Inc., Leonardo SpA, and Northrop Grumman Corporation are the leading players in the global market.

North America dominated the market in terms of share in 2021.

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