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Tactical Data Link Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Solution (Hardware and Software), By Data Link Type (Link 16, Link 22, SADL, and Others), By Platform (Air, Ground, and Sea), By Application (Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), Electronic Warfare, Radio Communication, and Situational Awareness), and Regional Forecast, 2021 – 2028

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI103189



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The global tactical data link market size was USD 6,380.0 million in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unmatched and staggering, with military data links witnessing a lower demand across all the regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a low growth of 3.9% in 2020 compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 6,667.1 million in 2021 to USD 11,073.9 million in 2028 at a CAGR of 7.52% during the 2021-2028 period.

Tactical data link (TDL) is a communication standard that uses different data links for the transmission and exchange of tactical information among arm forces. TDL provides a secure military communication network through tactical networks such as IDM, Link 11, AFAPD, Link 16, Link 22, SADL, JREAP, VMF, and SIMPLE. The network can be selected based on the application's needs. For example, the Link 16 data link is used for line of sight communication. SADL is used for situational awareness. The Link 22 data link is used for beyond line of sight communication applications.

A secure communication system through TDL is allowing military personnel to make accurate decisions in a critical situation. Furthermore, this technology easily integrates with a variety of military systems, which improves the capabilities of that system. Therefore, the defense industry witnessed a surge in replacing traditional military communications systems with these links to enable real-time and secure communication. This factor is driving the market growth during the forecast period.

Disruption in Supply Chain to Hinder Short Term Growth amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic situation has resulted in restrictions on transportation activities. Moreover, to prevent COVID-19 spread, several manufacturing facilities are closed for a specific time. These factors result in a sluggish year-on-year growth rate, mostly during 2020-2022, due to supply chain analysis and low production disruption.

In addition to this, several countries such as South Korea and Chile prioritize their defense expenditure to the healthcare industry to build the required infrastructure facilities to tackle the growing coronavirus cases. This factor has created a slight impact on the growth of the market.

Despite the coronavirus situation, developed and developing countries such as the U.S., U.K., India, and China have witnessed increased military expenditure in 2020.

  • According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) analysis, global military spending has increased by 2.6% and reached the value of USD 1981 billion in 2020.

Moreover, the increasing focus on improving military communication security and system performance is expected to overcome the pandemic's impact on the military data link market growth faster during the forecast period.


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Growing Development of Manned Unmanned Teaming to Aid Global Tactical Data Link Market Growth

An increase in military expenditure on research and development activities leads to the development of network-enabled weapons and teaming of manned and unmanned systems. Western air forces face two major trends; the rise of Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) that leads to more complex and challenging operational environments and a decline in the numbers of western combat aircraft. Moreover, teaming of fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned systems provides the augmented combat mass required in highly contested environments. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as Remote Carriers (RCs), teamed up with next-generation fighters (NGF) that are used in a variety of missions such as target acquisition and reconnaissance, air-to-air combat, and airborne electronic attack.

  • According to an updated fact sheet on Government Expenditures on Defense Research and Development by the United States and Other OECD Countries 2020, The U.S. had spent USD 55.4 billion on defense research and development activities in 2017.

Furthermore, the increasing use of network-enabled weapons (NEWs) is the latest trend in the market. NEWs can find, track, and engage a target faster than conventional weapons. As a result, it helps avoid duplication of efforts, reducing the potential for fratricide, de-conflicting operations, and increasing the possibility of real-time target hitting.

  • In January 2021, the U.K defense ministry signed a contract worth USD 750 million with MBDA to equip its F-35B combat jets with a new mini-cruise missile. The Spear 3 missile is a network-enabled, high precision, and surface attack system.


Rising International Security Threats and Disputes among Neighboring Countries to Drive Market Growth  

In recent years, there is an exponential rise in terrorist activities across the world. This factor increased the defense budget to enhance the country’s defense capabilities by adopting advanced military communication technologies and systems. Moreover, the rising cross-border activities across the globe have emphasized strengthening military application system capabilities. Emerging economies such as China and India are increasing their defense expenditure to modernize the conventional communication system. In addition, these countries are spending on the procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), and fighter jets.

  • In April 2021, according to new data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China and India's military expenditure reached an estimated USD 252 billion and USD 72.9 billion, respectively.

The growing need to improve the safety and security of military personnel is driving the development of automated fire control systems. Thus, the advent of automated fire control systems leads to increased demand for tactical communication software solutions to control weapon-based systems from a remote location.

  • In 2019, conflicts between Saudi Arabia and Yemen led to more than 7,500 civilian casualties in ballistic attacks. In 2020, conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan militaries, Israel and Palestine, and others led to instability and insecurity. Thus, increasing cross-border issues and growing terrorist activities in Middle Eastern countries drive market growth.

Rising Demand Enhanced Interoperability to Boost Market Growth

The growing demand for improved interoperability among armed forces and coalition partners is accelerating the production of advanced system solutions. The interoperability allows the system or arm forces to work together in a particular situation and improve communication security. Therefore, there is an increase in the adoption of tactical data link solutions from end-users due to the increasing need for secure communication. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental alliance between North American and 30 European countries.

  • On March 27, 2020, the North Macedonia state became a member of NATO. NATO used military data link 16 networks to communicate with its coalition partners. Additionally, Link 16 is used to command the partner and decide by communicating with the NATO members.

Furthermore, increasing procurement of TDL systems by defense forces to enhance military communication capabilities is expected to drive the growth of the tactical data link market.

  • In November 2019, Northrop Grumman signed a three-year contract with the Australian Defense Force Tactical Data Link Authority (ADFTA) to deliver TDL systems and training as part of the ADF’s Joint Data Network development. The ADFTA ensured TDL-functionality to achieve single, joint, and combined TDL interoperability for the Australian Defense Force (ADF).


Rigorous Military Standards and Shifting Defense Budgets to Healthcare from Several Countries to Hamper Market Growth

In the defense sector, the secure communication of data links is very important as it may alter an incorrect interpretation of severe accidents. Therefore, the defense sector defines some standards to develop and test this data link solution. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has described standards that all NATO members and other countries apply. However, these stringent norms hamper the growth of the market. Moreover, defense equipment has to pass through different military standards to qualify for procurement by defense forces. Apart from the military standards, the defense products should meet the size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements used in military aircraft.

The declining defense budget and diverting it to the healthcare sector due to the COVID- 19 pandemic temporarily hampers the growth of the market. In addition to this, South Korea cuts USD 245 million from the country’s defense budget. Thus, declining defense expenditure amid pandemic and stringent military standards restricts the growth of the military data link market.


By Solution Analysis

Software Segment to Grow at Faster Pace

Based on the solution, the market is divided into hardware and software.

The software segment is projected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. The growth of the segment is due to the growing adoption of advanced processing software from the defense forces. The software system is used to enhance the capabilities of hardware components by providing seamless connectivity among hardware systems.

  • In January 2021, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed software that bridges multiple disparate radio networks to enable communication between incompatible tactical radio data links.

The hardware segment held a significant share in 2020. The TDL system consists of advanced hardware components such as sensors, antennas, weapon data link controllers, and processors. Therefore, the growing adoption of a tactical data link system due to increasing international security threats and political conflicts among neighboring countries is expected to support the segment growth.

By Data Link Type Analysis

Link 22 Data Link Type Segment to Witness Significant Growth

Based on data link type, the market is classified into Link 16, Link 22, SADL, and others.

The Link 16 segment registered a significant market share in the base year. The growth of the segment is attributed to the increasing demand for link 16 network-enabled solutions from airborne, sea, and ground-based units. Link 16 data link is used for the information exchange between tactical command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems.

The Link 22 segment is expected to showcase significant growth during the forecast period. This growth is due to the growing demand for Link 22 network-enabled solutions in the U.S. and other NATO countries. Link 22 provides Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) communications. The growing adoption of drones for BLOS operation is expected to increase Link 22 demand during the forecast period. In addition to this, Link 22 is the newest NATO standard for tactical information exchange between military units. The Link 22 network layer structure permits transmission of any kind and length of data with automated routing and relaying mechanisms.

The other segment registered the largest share in 2020. The other segment includes data link types such as Link 1, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, Inter/Intra Flight Data Link (IFDL), situation awareness data link (SADL), JREAP, and SIMPLE, among others.

By Platform Analysis

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Rising Demand for UASs in Military Applications to Propel Market Growth

Based on the platform, the market is classified into air, ground, and sea.

The air segment is anticipated to register the highest growth during the review period. This growth is attributed to the increasing demand for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fixed-wing, and rotary-wing aircraft for defense operations. The growing use of tactical data links in military aircraft improves command and control, and situational awareness capabilities are expected to propel segment growth.

The ground segment is expected to dominate the market with the highest share in 2020. This growth is attributed to the high adoption of TDL radio for real-time communication between military personnel and the rising procurement of network-enabled weapons and military vehicles from defense forces to drive the growth of the segment.

The sea segment is anticipated to showcase significant growth during the forecast period. This growth is due to the increasing defense expenditure, and rising focus on strengthening the naval sector due to increased warfare activities boosts the market growth. The development of advanced frigates, destroyers, and other warships is expected to drive the segment growth.

By Application Analysis

Radio Communication Applications Segment to Dominate

Based on the application, the market is divided into command & control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare, radio communication, and situational awareness.

The radio communication segment registered the largest share in the base year. This large share is accredited to the rising demand for TDLs for radio communication due to rapid growth in warfare activities, terrorism, and cross-border conflicts driving segmental growth.

The electronic warfare segment will witness the highest growth during the forecast period due to the growing adoption of electronic warfare in UAVs and the introduction of next-generation weapons. This factor is supporting the segmental growth.

The command and control segment is projected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. The growth is due to the rising need to improve military forces' decision-making capabilities in tactical situations. The data link enhances the command and control applications by providing real-time information to the defense forces. 


North America Tactical Data Link Market Size, 2020 (USD Million)

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

North America stood at USD 2,432.5 million in 2020 and is expected to dominate the market owing to the highest defense expenditure by the U.S. Moreover, increasing spending on developing advanced military security solutions and the presence of many hardware and software developers across the region further supports the market growth during 2021-2028. In addition to this, the U.S. is a NATO member, which allows them to use link 1, link 2, link 11, link 16, and link 22 military data link capabilities.

The market in Asia Pacific is anticipated to witness the highest compound annual growth rate during the forecast period. The growth is due to the increasing defense expenditure from China, India, South Korea, and others. South Korea has developed a TDL network called Link-K.

  • In November 2020, the South Korean defense agency selected Hanwha Systems to develop the main and auxiliary equipment of Link-K, improve its transmission speed, and interlock with foreign data links.

Europe has registered a significant share in the market in the base year. The growth is accredited to the military modernization programs from the U.K, France, Russia, and others. The presence of key players such as Thales Group, Leonardo S.p.A., and others drive the market growth across Europe.

Rest of the World is expected to experience moderate growth during the projection period. The growing UAE government contract with NATO to strengthen their military capabilities is anticipated to support the market growth. However, the limited defense expenditure by several countries in the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America except for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey are anticipated to restrict the market growth during the forecast period.


Constant Product Innovation by Key Players to Widen Their Business Horizon

The competitive landscape of the military data link market depicts the presence of several large and medium-sized companies such as BAE Systems plc, Thales Group, Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Viasat, Inc., and Curtiss-Wright Corporation. The key players involved in the market mainly focus on developing upgraded systems, software solutions, and associated tactical communication equipment to meet application demand.

The key players also adopt organic and inorganic growth strategies such as increasing investments in R&D activities, mergers, and acquisitions and entering into a long-term contract with the defense ministry.


  • BAE Systems plc. (The U.K.)

  • Curtiss-Wright Corporation (The U.S.)

  • Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel)

  • General Dynamics Corporation (The U.S.)

  • Honeywell International, Inc. (The U.S.)

  • L3Harris Technologies, Inc. (The U.S.)

  • Leonardo S.p.A. (Italy)

  • Northrop Grumman Corporation (The U.S.)

  • Raytheon Technologies Corporation (The U.S.)

  • Saab AB (Sweden)

  • Thales Group (France)

  • Viasat, Inc. (The U.S.)


  • April 2021 – The communication division of L3Harris Technologies Inc. announced that it received a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to modernize its tactical communications capabilities.

  • June 2020 – BAE Systems technology solutions and services business inked a five-year, USD 85.9 million contract to engineer systems for the U.S. Navy. The company will help the military branch design, integrate, produce, install, test, and evaluate data link technology for the naval ship.

  • November 2020 – BAE Systems received certification for its Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponder for the F-22 Raptor from the Department of Defense AIMS program office. F-22 IFF transponder is integrated with a multi-channel subsystem compatible with the aircraft’s avionics equipment, which uses tactical data Link 16 for air navigation system waveforms.


An Infographic Representation of Tactical Data Link Market

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The global tactical data link market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects, such as renowned manufacturers, products, demanding technologies, and end-users. Moreover, it offers insights into the TDL trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the market report encompasses several direct and indirect factors contributing to the market's growth over recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period 



  Value (USD Million)


Solution; Data Link Type; Platform; Application and Geography

By Solution

  • Hardware

  • Software

By Data Link Type

  • Link 16

  • Link 22

  • SADL

  • Other

By Platform

  • Air

  • Ground

  • Sea


By Application

  • Command & Control

  • Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR)

  • Electronic Warfare

  • Radio Communication

  • Situational Awareness

By Geography


  • North America (By Solution, Data Link Type, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • The U.S. (By Application)

    • Canada (By Application)

  • Europe (By Solution, Data Link Type, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • The U.K. (By Application)

    • Germany (By Application)

    • France (By Application)

    • Russia (By Application)

    • Rest of Europe (By Application)

  • Asia-Pacific (By Solution, Data Link Type, Platform, Application, and Country)

    • Japan (By Application)

    • China (By Application)

    • India (By Application)

    • Rest of Asia-Pacific (By Application)

  • Rest of the World (By Solution, Data Link Type, Platform, 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 6,380.0 million in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 11,073.9 million by 2028.

Registering a CAGR of 7.52%, the market will exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2021-2028).

The software solution segment is the leading segment in the market.

BAE Systems plc, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Leonardo S.p.A., Raytheon Technologies Corporation, and Thales Group are the leading players in the global market.

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

Command & control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare, radio communication system, and situational awareness are the major applications of TDL.

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Tactical Data Link Market Size, Share and Global Industry Trend Forecast till 2026
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