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The global military drone market size was valued at USD 12.55 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 14.14 billion in 2023 to USD 35.60 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 14.10% during the forecast period.
The growing use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the defense and security industry for several applications such as surveying, mapping, transportation, combat operations, and monitoring will fuel the demand for military UAVs in the coming years. The rise in defense expenditure of various countries to procure modernized & technologically advanced military drones/UAVs for intensified combat capability is expected to support the global market growth. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is modernizing military drone technologies from picking targets autonomously with precision. Furthermore, increasing investment in AI and autonomous systems for advanced technologies is boosting this market.
High Adoption Rate of Military Drones in Russia-Ukraine War to Bolster the Market Growth
In the Russia-Ukraine war, which began in February 2022, Russia and Ukraine have
utilized drones for various military operations such as Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations, target acquisition support, and other operations.
In addition, Russia signed a contract worth USD 12 million with China to provide military drones for the Russian Armed Forces amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. These factors are expected to propel the military drone market growth over the forecast period.
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Introduction of Artificial Intelligence with Autonomous Flight Systems to Drive Market Growth
Drone technology has witnessed strong growth in the past years due to continuous research & development. Innovation enhancing the capabilities and increasing adoption of modernized technologically advanced UAVs has potential opportunities. Most advanced drones have multiple sensor systems, such as air-to-air missiles, Communication Intelligence Sensors, and Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications. Today, the most advanced unmanned aerial vehicles can carry a few pieces of equipment attached to large sensors and internal weapons compartments.
Autonomous flight systems for high-altitude military drones are being commercially developed with AI. The increasing growth of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems will likely boost the market. This development is expected to lead to strong growth in the global military unmanned aircraft market in future. The weapon payload includes missile and guided bomb units.
Increasing Military Spending and Growing Procurement of Military Drones from Defense Forces to Boost the Market Growth
Several countries invested highly in strengthening their defense forces, which is expected to drive market growth. As per Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI) report, in 2020, the total global military expenditure rose to USD 1,981 billion, showing an increase of 2.6% from 2019. The top five countries with the highest defense budgets in 2020 were the U.S., China, India, Russia, and the U.K. with budgets of USD 778 billion, USD 252 billion, USD 72.9 billion, USD 61.7 billion, and USD 59.2 billion, respectively.
Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, and India have invested a lot in purchasing and upgrading the overall defense system over the last several years. Such factors will fuel the demand for military unmanned aerial vehicles in the next few years.
Furthermore, the growing procurement of next-generation military drones from military forces drives market growth.
Rising Cross-Border Conflicts in Several Countries to Fuel Market Growth
Growing border disputes among countries over land ownership and control of the area between two or more states are expected to increase product demand. For the past few years, India, Syria, China, Iran, Pakistan, Israel, and others have faced territorial issues. These countries have increased military spending for procuring real-time surveillance drones to improve situation awareness by upgrading border patrolling.
In June 2020, the China and India border dispute turned deadly for the first time in over four decades. Since May, several thousands of Chinese and Indian troops have been on a standoff in the Ladakh region in the Himalayas. Drone technology has an important role in resolving border disputes. Both countries use military unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance operation and logistics applications in high-altitude areas.
High Cost of Advanced Electronics and Modern Systems to Hinder Market Growth
UAVs are fully equipped with high-tech propulsion systems, avionics systems, advanced flight management technology, modern sensors, and payloads. These parameters are associated with sophisticated software and high-quality hardware systems depending upon the severity of the operations. The deployment of military UAVs has a different product portfolio for the army, air force, and navy owing to different applications varying the overall cost of products.
These factors increase the final price of UAVs across the globe. The huge product, as well as maintenance cost, is expected to restrain future growth. Restrictions on deploying UAVs in several countries and limited use in aerial spaces are also expected to restrict future demand.
Fixed Wing Segment to Hold Major Share Owing to its Increasing Use for Long Distance Operations
By product type, the market is divided into fixed wing, hybrid wing, and rotary wing.
The fixed wing segment held the highest share of the military drone market in 2022 and will continue its dominance throughout the forecast period. Compared to VTOL vertical takeoff and landing UAVs, fixed wing aircraft can typically carry a heavier load for longer flight times while using less power. This implies they are best suited to large-distance missions, such as strategic defense, mapping, surveillance and defense, which require high durability. Various military authorities worldwide use it to great effect in the defense sector. These factors are predicted to propel the segment growth throughout the projection period.
The rotary wing segment is anticipated to showcase significant growth in the coming years, owing to increasing development of rotary wings. Rotary wings, extensively used for road and logistics applications in all parts of the world, carry heavy loads. Rotary wing drone is also used for tactical operations for Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions due to vertical take-off and landing.
Extended Visual Line of Sight Segment to Grow at the Fastest CAGR Impelled by Rising Adoption in Electronic Warfare and Battle Management
Based on range, the market is divided into Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS), Visual Line of Sight (VLOS), and Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS).
The EVLOS segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period owing to the high acceptance of EVLOS UAVs in long-range missions to collect important information, proper battle management, and electronic warfare. For instance, in February 2022, General Atomics tested advanced datalink and avionics enhancements for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) drone.
The VLOS range of drones is commonly used in applications such as fire emergencies, border patrol, and disaster relief & management. The BLOS segment is expected to grow substantially over the forecast period owing to the growing awareness that technology is progressing toward advancement and commercialization. These UAVs can transport weapons, ammunition, and cargo to the targeted locations.
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Growing Adoption of Remotely Operated UAVs for Military Operation to Drive Segment Growth
The market is classified into semi-autonomous drones, remotely operated drones, and autonomous drones based on technology.
The remotely operated segment is expected to have a major market share throughout the forecast period. Due to strict government requirements for long-range autonomous flight, many contracted Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles are flying remotely worldwide. This technology has been used on UAVs in Command & Control (C&C), telemetry systems, and radio communications.
The autonomous segment will likely grow at the fastest CAGR during the forecast period. Growing economies are focused on designing and developing autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles to offer tactical and strategic services. The semi-autonomous segment will witness significant growth during 2023-2030 due to the rising preference for fixed-range flight operations to gather vital information.
Airframe Segment to Dominate due to Increasing Adoption of UAVs in Military
Based on system, the market is categorized into avionics, airframe, payload, propulsion, software, and others.
The airframe segment held the highest market share in the base year. During the forecast period, this segment will continue to lead. This segment results from an increasing adoption of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for a wide range of defense operations, including surveillance, observation, reconnaissance, and combat.
The propulsion segment is projected to grow at a higher CAGR during the study period owing to increasing demand for turboprop engines in military UAVs due to high durability.
The avionics segment is projected to grow significantly due to integrating modern electronics, automated flight management, and path control. The payload segment is expected to grow throughout the projection period. The segmental growth is attributed to the growing incorporation of payloads such as cameras, radar, sensors, weapons, and others into the UAVs.
ISRT Segment to Lead the Market due to Rising Awareness to Strengthen the Defense System
By application, the market is segmented into Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Targeting (ISRT), logistics & transportation, combat operations, battle damage management, and others.
The ISRT segment is projected to lead during the forecast period. The segmental growth is due to the role of UAVs in the defense industry rather than combat operations. These flying machines are designed to provide crucial information and collect data on the targeted territory or terrorist area.
For applications, such as transportation and logistics, over the last several years, unmanned aircraft have been employed by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, or other security agencies. Market growth is projected to increase over the coming years due to the growing demand for logistics and transport.
North America Military Drone Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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The market is subdivided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world.
North America is a dominant region with the highest military drone market share in 2022. This large share is attributed to several OEMs, in the U.S., such as Northrop Grumman Corporation, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., and others. Advances have been made in drone technology, which brought major developments within the U.S. military, and increased investment by key regional players boosted the market growth. The U.S. is one of the world's largest exporters of unmanned aerial vehicles, which is expected to drive regional growth. Historically, Lockheed Martin Corporation and General Atomic Aeronautics received contracts for military HALE and MALE drones from NATO and major defense partners such as India. These companies are anticipated to receive more military drone contracts for various operation-specific military drones for ISR or target acquisition or MUM-T (Manned-Unmanned Teaming Platforms).
The Europe market is anticipated to grow substantially due to the rising awareness to improve the air force, navy, and military capabilities. European countries, such as the U.K., Germany, and France are competing to procure tactical and small drones to enhance ISR capability during the foreseeable future.
Asia Pacific is estimated to be the fastest-growing region growing at a higher CAGR, owing to the burgeoning procurements of military drones by most countries in the region. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has shifted the procurement priority of regional armed forces toward UAVs, driving the regional market growth during the forecast period.
In addition, the key players in Asia Pacific are investing heavily in drone development, which will fuel the product demand.
The rest of the world accounted for a lower market share as it is underpenetrated in the region. Furthermore, key players, such as Elbit Systems Ltd and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., are focused on developing surveillance, public safety, and infrastructure technologies to boost regional market growth.
Key Companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Thales Group to Lead the Market
The market is consolidated due to the strong product portfolio of UAV manufacturers in developed and emerging countries. Thales Group, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Northrop Grumman Corporation are anticipated to lead the market. However, a low entry barrier is expected to increase the number of domestic UAV companies entering the global market. The growing number of new entrants in the drone industry are expected to lead to a highly fragmented market in the coming years.
An Infographic Representation of Military Drone Market
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The research report provides detailed market analysis and focuses on key aspects such as product types, leading companies, technology, and applications. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the market growth in recent years.
CAGR of 14.10% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
By Product Type
According to a study by Fortune Business Insights, the global market size was USD 12.55 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to reach USD 35.60 billion by 2030.
Growing at a CAGR of 14.10%, the market will exhibit exponential growth during the forecast period (2023-2030).
The fixed wing segment is expected to be the leading segment during 2023-2030.
Lockheed Martin, Thales Group, and Northrop Grumman are the major companies in the global market.
North America dominated the market share in 2022.
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