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Military Drone Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product Type (Fixed Wing, Hybrid and Rotary Wing), By Range (Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS), Extended Visual Line Of Sight (EVLOS), By Technology (Remotely Operated Drones, Semi-Autonomous Drones), By System (Airframe, Avionics, Propulsion, Payload), By Application (ISR and Targeting (ISRT), Combat Operations, Battle Damage Management), and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102181



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The global military drone market size was USD 10.68 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with military drones witnessing a negative impact on demand across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a lower growth of 1.40% in 2020 compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 11.25 billion in 2021 to USD 26.12 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 12.78% during the 2021-2028 period. The rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.

The increasing adoption of drones in several military applications is likely to fuel the market growth during the forecast period. The growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) technologies in the defense sector for several applications such as mapping, surveying, monitoring, transportation, and combat operations will fuel demand for military UAVs in upcoming years. The rise in defense expenditure of several countries to purchase modern & advanced military drones for enhancing combat capability is projected to support market growth across the globe. The UAVs are employed in battle damage assessment, communication intelligence, and electronic intelligence. Technological advancement in unmanned aerial systems has improved the surveillance efficiency in ISR missions.   

The integration of artificial intelligence is modernizing drone technologies from picking targets autonomously with precision and persistence. For example, In August 2020, the artificial algorithm of Darpa’s Air Combat Evaluation Program registered a win over the human pilot in a Lockheed Martin (LMT) F-16 simulator on a virtual platform at a competition sponsored by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Extensive R&D and continuous innovation enhance the conventional role of multi-mission platforms in armed forces around the world.

Strategic UAVs are expected to witness a massive technological enhancement, superior endurance capability, payload potential, and reliability in the future years. The growing demand for the indispensable weapon in modern battle management is fueling the military UAVs market growth. In 2017, the French Defence Agency signed an agreement with drone company Elistair to finance its AIRWATCH projects. AIRWATCH project aims at developing a dronebox, a smart tethered drone for surveillance and telecommunication. The drone will support dual applications such as military and civilian safety.

COVID-19 Pandemic has Negatively Affected Market Owing to Disruptions in Supply Chain

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy is expected to be uncertain in the forthcoming years.  

  • COVID-19 pandemic also impacted production/manufacturing facilities and supply chains across the globe due to severe lockdown by the government affected regional and domestic demand for these drones. In western Europe, several defense companies also witnessed operational halt for a few months resulting in production queues, late deliveries due to partial and complete lockdown in the country.

  • The expenditure and investment science and technology for the military and defense sector is likely to impact significantly due to the negative GDP growth of developed and developing countries in 2020. Moreover, several countries are likely to hold the new purchase of military drones owing to a strong need to improve major healthcare infrastructure and hospital facilities.

  • Military contracts are different from many industries due to the long negotiation period, extensive testing, evaluation & analysis, customization, numerous trials, and face-to-face meetings. The pandemic impacted the new business development chances in the market owing to high value procurement contracts.

  • The purchase of defense equipment that required related services has been affected due to a lack of confidence in the market, resulting in fewer drone business contracts. Economic unrest in various countries is likely to hamper future business contracts related to unmanned aerial systems followed by the military UAVs market.


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Introduction of Artificial Intelligence with Autonomous Flight System to Drive Market Growth

Drone technologies has witnessed strong growth over the past several years due to the constant innovation and R&D enhancing the capabilities. The numerous drones are integrated with modern sensors, LiDAR, high-tech cameras, GNSS, infrared, and thermal imaging systems.  The most advanced unmanned aerial vehicles are equipped with multiple sensor systems such as the global system for mobile communication (GSM), communication intelligence sensors, and air-to-air missiles. Nowadays, the most advanced UAVs can carry various payloads attached to an internal weapons bay and large sensors. Artificial intelligence is currently used commercially for autonomous flight systems for high-altitude military UAVs. This is expected to bode well for the global military drone market growth in the forthcoming years.


Continuous Growth of Global Military Expenditure to Aid Growth

Several countries are interested to know about the defense systems of other countries. Most countries strongly focus on enhancing defense capability according to their financial power, economic condition, internal, external, geostrategic, and political scenario. Military expenditure is an important parameter for operations, maintenance, procurement, and R&D to ensure every country’s safety and security. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global defense spending was recorded at USD 1.917 trillion in 2019, with a positive growth of around 3.6% than previously.

The global defense expenditure has recorded the highest ever hike in the decade. The major share was accounted for by prominent countries such as the U.S., followed by China, India, and Russia. The SIPRI observed around 7.2% higher global military expenditure in 2019 compared to 2010. The various countries such as China, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are investing a large amount in purchasing and upgrading the overall military & defense system in the defense industry over the last several years. These factors are projected to fuel the demand for military type of drones in the next few years.

Rising Border Disputes in Various Countries is Likely to Fuel Market Growth

The different parts of the world, including several countries, witness the border dispute due to disagreement over the possession of land or to control the area between two or more states. For the past few years, the countries are facing territorial issues, including India, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Iran, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Taiwan, Israel, Syria, and Russia. These countries are spending a large amount of money to purchase a surveillance drone to enhance situation awareness by modernizing the patrolling on the border area.

In June 2020, the India and China border dispute turned very deadly for the first time in more than four decades. Since May, several thousands of Indian and Chinese troops have been on a standoff in the Ladakh region in the Himalayas. Drone technologies has been playing an important role in resolving their border dispute. Both countries are using UAVs for reconnaissance operations and logistics applications in high-altitude area. This is anticipated to contribute to the growth of the global market during the forecast period.


High Cost Associated with Advanced Electronics and Modern Systems to Limit Market Adoption

The military unmanned aerial vehicles are fully equipped with high-tech avionics systems, modern sensors, propulsion systems, payloads, and advanced flight management technology. These parameters are associated with high-quality hardware and sophisticated software systems depending upon the deployment of armed forces. The deployment of UAVs has a different product portfolio for the army, air force, and navy due to the different applications and the overall cost of products.

These parameters increase the final price of military drones across the globe. The high product and expensive maintenance costs are projected to hamper future growth. The limited use in aerial spaces and restricted application of UAVs in various countries also hamper future demand.


By Product Type Analysis

Fixed-Wing Segment to Hold Major Share Owing to its Increasing Use for Long-Distance Operations

Based on product type, the market includes fixed-wing, hybrid, and rotary wing. 

The fixed-wing segment is projected to hold the maximum military drones market share during the forecast period. The fixed-wing aerial vehicles are significantly used in the military and defense, mainly by various armed forces worldwide. The superior structure benefits of carrying surveillance operations at the long-distance mission are fueling the demand. The most advanced and most powerful UAVs are designed and constructed in fixed-wing structures due to their excellent aerodynamics. These factors are projected to fuel segment growth during the forecast period.

The rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles are likely to show attractive growth worldwide in the future due to the extensive development of quad-copters in recent years. These are heavy load carriers rigorously used for spying, logistics, and transportation applications across the world. The rotary-wing vehicles are employed in tactical military operations for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The growing demand for intelligence operations in various countries for information collection is projected to fuel market growth in the forthcoming years.

By Range Analysis

Extended Visual Line of Sight Segment is Set to Grow at a Fastest CAGR in the Market up to 2027

Based on range, the market is segmented into the visual line of sight (VLOS), extended visual line of sight (EVLOS), beyond the line of sight (BLOS).

The extended visual line of sight segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR in the military UAVs market during the period. Defense unmanned aerial vehicles are widely adopted in electronic warfare, proper battle management, and various long-range missions to gather important information.

Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) range of UAVs is used in key applications such as disaster relief & management, fire emergency, and border patrol.

The Beyond line of sight (BLOS) type unmanned aerial vehicle can transport ammunition, weapons, and cargo to the targeted areas. A wide range of military UAVs carry heavy payloads at specific locations during any critical situation. The growing awareness regarding the technology is progressing toward commercialization, and advancement is anticipated to fuel segment growth.

By Technology Analysis

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Remotely Operated Segment to Hold Maximum Market Share Owing to Growing Adoption of Remotely Operated UAVs in Military

In terms of end-user, the market is segmented into remotely operated drones, semi-autonomous drones, and autonomous drone technologies.

The remotely operated drone segment is expected to have a dominant share in the market during the forecast period. The majorly commissioned UAVs are remotely operated across the globe owing to the stringent government regulations for long-range autonomous flight. This technology is carried out for the command & control (C&C) and other telemetry systems in military drones along with the radio links. The wide range of UAVs commissioned in the military is equipped with satellite receivers as a part of satellite navigation systems for long-range flights. The radio signal from the orbiting satellite is captured by the UAVs, ensuring the precise location, timing and determining the path through the navigation systems that provide flight accuracy and reliability.

The autonomous segment is expected to grow at the fastest CAGR during the forecast period. Several countries focus on developing autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles for important tactical and strategic services.

The semi-autonomous segment is expected to register significant growth by the end of the forecast period owing to the rising preference for fixed-range flight operations to gather vital information.

By System Analysis

Propulsion Segment to Grow at High CAGR Due to Rising Adoption of Turboprop Engine UAVs in Military

Based on system, the market is segmented into airframe, avionics, propulsion, payload, software, others.

The propulsion segment is anticipated to grow at a higher CAGR during the forecast period owing to the increasing demand for turboprop engines in military UAVs for high endurance.

The airframe segment is predicted to hold the largest market share throughout the forecast period. The growth can be attributed to the growing adoption of UAVs for several military operations such as monitoring, surveillance, reconnaissance, and combat operations.

The avionics segment is expected to grow significantly due to the integration of modern electronics systems, automated flight management systems, and path control.

The payload segment is predicted to grow throughout the projection period. The growth of the segment is accredited to the growing incorporation of payloads such as sensors, cameras, radars, weapons, and others into the UAVs for performing various functions.

By Application Analysis

ISR segment to Lead Due to Rising Awareness to Strengthen the Defense System

In terms of application, the market is segmented into intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance and targeting (ISRT), combat operations, battle damage management, logistics & transportation, and others.

The intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (ISRT) segment is expected to hold a leading position during the forecast period. The segment's dominance is attributed to the role of drones in the defense industry rather than combat operations. These flying machines are designed to collect data and crucial information about the targeted territory or terrorist area. The information-gathering through the high-tech camera and sensors is known as intelligence. The wide acceptance in the military and defense in many countries use in varied applications such as remote sensing, border monitoring, security, & surveillance, and mapping.

The army, air force navy, and other security agencies have been using drones for transportation and logistics applications for the past few years. The growing demand for logistics and transportation is projected to fuel demand for operations battle damage management application segment in the coming years.


North America Military Drone Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The market is categorized into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.

North America held a major share in the military unmanned aerial vehicles market in 2020, owing to the presence of several OEMs operating in the U.S. and Canada. The prominent investment of private players in the region and the key development with the U.S. Army has achieved greater advancement in drone technology. The U.S. is one of the major exporters of military drones worldwide, driving regional growth rapidly.

The market in Europe is expected to grow at a moderate CAGR due to the rising awareness of the necessity to enhance the military, navy, and air force capability. European countries such as Germany, France, and the UK are racing to purchase small and tactical drones to enhance intelligence and surveillance capability during the foreseeable future.

The market in the Asia Pacific is expected to exhibit healthy growth owing to the increasing military expenditure of various countries in the future years.

  • According to the official sources, China sold over 48 GJ-2 drones to Pakistan under the export brand name Wing Loong II. GJ-2 is an 11-meter long MALE drone with a payload capacity of 480kg. The drone can carry around 12 missiles or attack bombs and has a top speed of 380 km/hour and a 200 km/hour cruising speed. 

In addition to this, market players in the Asia-Pacific region are making heavy investments, fueling demand for military drone products.

Latin America & the Middle East & Africa accounted for a comparatively lower share of the market owing to the presence of a huge underpenetrated market.


Key companies such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Thales Group to Lead the Market

The market is fragmented owing to the strong product portfolio of military drone manufacturers in developed and emerging countries. Currently, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Thales Group are anticipated to lead the market and are accounting for a dominant share in 2020. However, the lack of strong barriers to entry is projected to lead to an increasing number of domestic drone companies entering the global market. The growing number of companies entering the drone industry is projected to lead to a highly fragmented market by 2028.

Other key players such as General Atomics Aeronautical System (US), Boeing (US), Elbit System (Israel), AeroVironment Industries (US), Textron Systems (US), Israel Aerospace Industries (Israel), SAAB Group (Sweden), have also entered the market competition with military UAV products. The introduction of innovative product ranges such as AI-powered drones, Automatic Take-off and Landing (ATOL), combat drones, coupled with strategic acquisition and collaboration, is a major strategy adopted by the market players.



  • April 2021 German Government approved a USD 3.59 billion worth contract to develop a European military drone. Airbus, Dassault, and Leonardo are expected to build the drone. The German military will receive 12 ground control stations, 21 drones, and four simulators from the joint project with France, Spain, and Italy, with delivery, anticipated to start in 2030  

  • January 2021 – IdeaForge received a contract from the Indian government of approximately USD 20 million for undisclosed quantities of a high-altitude variant of ideaForge's SWITCH UAV, delivered over one year.

  • July 2020 – SRC Inc. received a contract worth USD 426 million to supply a defense system against small drones by the U.S. army. The contract consists of a mobile system, including a radar camera, jamming technology, and sensors for detection and tracking and identifies hostile drones on the battlefield.

  • August 2020 – The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), with its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) unit, tested and approved almost five drones for government and military use. The five DIU-approved drones include Skydio’s X2-D, Parrots’ Anafi USA, Altavian’s M440 Ion, Teal Drones Golden Eagle, and Vantage Robotics Vesper.


An Infographic Representation of Military Drone Market

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The global military drone market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product types, and leading product 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 growth of the advanced market over recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD billion)


By Product Type

  • Fixed Wing

  • Hybrid

  • Rotary Wing

By Technology

  • Remotely Operated Drones

  • Semi-Autonomous Drones

  • Autonomous Drones

By Range

  • Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)

  • Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS)

  • Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS)

By System

  • Airframe

  • Avionics

  • Propulsion

    • Electric Propulsion Engine

    • Turboprop Engine

    • Turboshaft Engine

  • Payloads

    • Cameras

    • CBRN Sensors

    • EOIR Payload

    • Radar

    • LiDAR

    • Others

  • Software

  • Others (Ground control station, data link)

By Applications

  • Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISRT)

  • Combat Operations

  • Battle Damage Management

  • Logistics & Transportation

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America (Product Type, Technology, Range, System, Application, And Country)

    • The U.S. (By Application)

    • Canada (By Application)

  • Europe (Product Type, Technology, Range, System, Application, And Country)

    • The U.K. (By Application)

    • Germany (By Application)

    • France (By Application)

    • Italy (By Application)

    • Spain (By Application)

    • Russia (By Application)

    • Rest of Europe (By Application)

  • Asia-Pacific (Product Type, Technology, Range, System, Application, And Country)

    • Japan (By Application)

    • China (By Application)

    • India (By Application)

    • Australia (By Application)

    • Southeast Asia (By Application)

    • Rest of Asia-Pacific (By Application)

  • Rest of World (Product Type, Technology, Range, System, Application, And Country)

    • Latin America (By Application)

    • The Middle East & Africa (By Application)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 10.68 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 26.12 billion by 2028.

Growing at a CAGR of 12.78%, the market will exhibit exponential growth during the forecast period (2021-2028).

The fixed-wing segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

The increasing demand for surveillance military drones in various countries and innovative unmanned aerial vehicles by market players are major factors driving the growth of the market.

Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Thales Group are major players in the global market.

North America dominated the market share in 2020.

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Military Drone Market Size, Share and Global Industry Trend Forecast till 2026
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