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The global UAV simulator market size was USD 659.4 million in 2019. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with the UAV industry witnessing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global UAV simulator market will exhibit a stellar growth of 16.8% in 2020. The market is projected to grow from USD 769.9 million in 2020 to USD 2,277.3 million in 2027 at a CAGR of 16.76% in the 2020-2027 period. The growth in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
Growing demand for unmanned systems, especially unmanned aerial vehicles, is projected to fuel the global market during the forecast period. An increase in the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles for numerous applications, such as air logistics, aerial photography, medicine delivery, food delivery, surveillance, and military operations, will fuel the demand for UAV simulators across the globe. Most air traffic management has started witnessing UAVs' integration for various commercial, civil, and military & defense operations.
Unmanned aerial vehicles possess a local threat and high risk for urban populations or urban air traffic in various countries. Therefore, UAV operators require precise training, operational efficiency, maneuvering, attitude control & monitoring, and safe handling practice. UAV simulators provide complete pilot training through software with actual communication, navigation, control, and safe take-off & landing for different purposes. For example, military UAVs are handled or operated by trained pilots after completing numerous hours of actual training on simulators for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions & operations. The rising demand for actual training in law enforcement will boost the demand for UAV simulators across the globe in the near future. The flight training and simulation software is defined as an artificial environment that provides a lifelike experience to pilots to handle UAVs for military and other critical operations. Pilots or operators undergo training to gain complete expertise depending on the vehicle, size, platform, and operation type.
The simulator creates a real environment, such as in video games, for the complete handling experience, reducing time, effort, cost, and actual training resources. In 2020, for example, Chinese PLA personnel started the first UAV occupational qualification assessment course. The pilot program includes certification and occupational qualification training on UAV operations. It will also include combined combat characteristics, pilot program, equipment maintenance, and other professional skills. These factors will drive the UAV flight training market growth during the forecasted period.
COVID-19 Impact: UAV Simulator Market to Witness Positive Impacts of the Crisis in 2020
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Introduction of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to Drive Market Growth
Several simulator providers are focused on developing high-performance simulators for various end-users such as military & defense, commercial, and civil. Companies are fully integrating avionics, aerodynamics, flight control, and navigation systems in their simulators. These training and simulation models are designed in such a way that a pilot operator gets a wide range of learning on one platform. Virtual reality and augmented reality are emerging technologies in this field and have proven to be very helpful in the all-around training of UAV operators. Through these technologies, simulators are being equipped to offer actual 3D virtual environments that provide an exact representation of the real-world environment for flight operation compatible with various UAVs.
In 2019, for instance, UAVOS announced a simulator development that allows the testing of autopilot control capabilities in different weather conditions. The UAV simulator also includes software with ground control stations and trial flights in the virtual environment before the operation. The software can simulate a real autopilot with integrated autopilot sensor inputs to achieve the highest accuracy. The advanced simulators are designed to provide a real-time experience to the pilot with high-definition graphics, mechanical actuation, and computing speed. This key development is expected to drive the demand for UAV simulators during the forecast period.
Strong Growth of the Global UAV Market to Drive the UAV Simulator Industry
The rapidly growing drone industry is likely to provide a USD 100 billion market opportunity during the forecast period. The increase in the demand for drones is mainly contributed by the commercial, military & defense, and civil sectors. The addressable market by industry includes construction, agriculture, insurance, claims, offshore oil/gas and refining, law enforcement, real estate, agriculture, mining, and aerial photography. Drone technology is emerging at a healthy rate and is experiencing superior advancements in key components such as drone GNSS, lidar, camera, thermal sensors, infrared sensors, propulsion, communication, control, and navigation.
The value of commercial drone manufacturing and related services in the US is projected to grow to USD 20 billion by 2026. These industry trends are projected to fuel the demand for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles around the world during the forecast period. In April 2020, for instance, China-based company DJI launched three products, Mavic 3, Mavic Air 2, and Matrice 300. The company is focusing on sales growth in various countries due to an increase in the commercial demand for drones. In 2018, DJI and Airworks released a new flight simulator to help and train commercial pilots. The DJI simulator can be utilized by pilots of leading drone products such as Spark, Phantom, Inspire, Matice, and Mavic.
Increasing Adoption of UAVs in Military & Defense to Fuel the Growth of the Market
The increasing demand for unmanned aerial vehicles in numerous countries is expected to fuel the demand for UAV simulators during the forecast period. Currently, more than 17 countries have commissioned armed UAVs ready for military operations. Military drones are equipped with numerous sensors, payloads, navigation, control & system, and avionics to gather various types of data during flights. Military UAVs are widely used for ISR missions, rescue operations, logistics, and other applications. They are categorized based on size, capacity, use, and complexity. Professional & trained pilots operate the mission-based UAVs from ground-based controllers because they carry loads for hundreds of kilometers in various regions. During the flight, drones collect important information from the sky through sensors, Lidars, navigation, cameras, and other systems. These factors are projected to fuel market growth during the forecast period.
Complex Architecture and Lack of Skilled Trainers to Hamper Market Expansion
Unmanned aerial vehicles are integrated with numerous components such as avionics systems, propulsion systems, sensor payloads, and other advanced technologies. Simulators are associated with high-quality hardware and software systems, depending upon the deployment, applications, and their use for armed forces. These parameters increase the final price of UAV simulators, thus hampering the future market growth. The restricted applications of unmanned aerial vehicles in various countries are also expected to hinder future demand for these devices.
Quad-copter Drone Segment to Display Fast-paced Growth
Based on product type, the market includes fixed-wing, quad-copter, and helicopters. The fixed-wing segment is expected to hold a major share in the market during the forecast period. Fixed-wing drones are extensively used in military and defense operations by armed forces worldwide. Several military-based missions are operated in various terrains and at different altitudes, especially in long-range endurances. Therefore, UAV operators or pilots should be trained for mission-based operations of the military & defense forces. Moreover, the superior structural benefits to carry surveillance operations for long-distance missions are fueling the segment’s demand. The advanced UAVs are designed in fixed-wing structures owing to their outstanding aerodynamic designs. These drones are also widely used by militaries due to their greater load-carrying capabilities. These advantages of fixed-wing drones are likely to fuel their global demand.
The rotary-wing segment is likely to show attractive growth in the upcoming years due to the increased use of quad-copters and multi-copters in recent years. These are lightweight load carriers carefully used for spying, logistics, aerial photography, videography, and transportation applications across the world. Rotary-wing UAVs 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 near future.
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Software Segment is Set to Grow at the Fastest CAGR till 2027
Based on range, the market is segmented into hardware and software. The software segment held the major share in the global market in 2019 and is projected to lead in the forthcoming years. Simulator technology is the replica of an actual UAV-based training system for various commercial pilots and special commanders in various countries. The simulator comprises various components, parts, electronic chips, monitor, radar, communication intelligence, and other parts. These parts were developed to provide a real-time experience to the pilot. The technological advancements in sensors, GPS, and navigation are enhancing simulator systems by giving them the ability to create accurate real-world environments. These developments can increase monitoring operations, processing, and direction-finding for pilots. The growing demand for commercial UAVs and military drones is projected to fuel the demand for UAV simulators in the next few years.
The software segment is projected to hold a dominant share in the market during the forecast period. There is a wide range of drone simulator software that provides real conditions, such as generic aerodynamics and sensor integration, at specific locations for special training activities. This advanced software is integrated with high-quality graphics, which enhance training on various terrains. UAV technology's growing demand is aiding the progress towards software advancements and is anticipated to fuel segment growth.
Military & Defense Segment to Hold Dominant Share in the Market
In terms of end-user, the market is segmented into military & defense and commercial. The military & defense segment is projected to hold a dominant share during the forecast period.
The commercial segment is projected to grow at the fastest CAGR due to the increased demand for UAVs worldwide. Drone simulators play an important role in commercial sectors such as agriculture, construction, real estate, research, emergency & rescue, government, and insurance. According to Goldman Sachs, the commercial & civil drone market is projected to grow up to USD 13 billion over the next few years. Considerable growth in commercial drone usage will fuel the demand for UAV simulators across the globe in the forthcoming period.
The military & defense segment is projected to grow at the fastest CAGR during the forecast period due to increasing defense spending by major economies. For example, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global military expenditure experienced a growth of 2.2% in 2019. Simulators & software are widely used in military & defense applications, such as ISR & targeting operations, border patrolling, coastal security, and monitoring. Mission commanders, payload operators, and internal pilots are the primary simulator users owing to the required expertise to handle long-range operations. Internal pilots and external pilots must go through hundreds of training hours due to stringent government regulations to bring expertise in drone handling, long endurances, and mission-based operations. The rising government purchase of unmanned systems across the globe is projected to fuel the segment’s growth in the next few years.
North America UAV Simulator Market Size, 2019 (USD Million)
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The market is categorized into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World. North America led the UAV simulator market share in 2019 due to the presence of several drone companies, manufacturers, and software companies operating in the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. Army is focused on extensive R&D and advancements in drone technology. The U.S. is one of the leading manufacturers and exporters of UAVs around the world. These factors are expected to fuel regional growth during the forecast period.
The market in Europe is expected to grow at a moderate CAGR due to the increasing demand for unmanned systems in military, civil, and commercial applications in major EU economies. In 2019, the European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) announced the launch of a new platform called European Drone Investment to promote investments, advisory, and support the aviation industry's future growth. This development is likely to aid market growth and investments after 2021. The growing use of drones to enhance the capability of the military, navy, and air force will also raise the demand for simulators in the upcoming period.
The Asia Pacific market is expected to exhibit strong growth due to the increasing military expenditure in various countries. In November 2020, for instance, the Royal Thai Army (RTA) awarded a contract to Beihang UAS Technology Company worth USD 3.16 million to deliver a UAV flight simulator for tactical class UAV. In addition to this, market players in this region are focused on product portfolio expansion via strategic collaborations with military and defense authorities. This, in turn, will fuel the demand for UAV simulator products across the region.
Latin America & the Middle East & Africa are likely to grow rapidly due to the increasing military capabilities of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and South Africa.
Key Companies to Dominate the Market Backed by Strong Portfolios
The market is fragmented owing to the strong product portfolios of major companies in developed and emerging economies. Currently, Northrop Grumman Corporation, CAE Inc., and L3 Harris Technology are leading the market competition. These players accounted for a dominant share in 2019 and are likely to retain their leading position during the forecast period. However, the lack of strong entry barriers is expected to lead to an increasing number of domestic players entering the global market.
The growing number of companies entering the drone industry is projected to lead to a highly fragmented market by 2027. Other key players, such as Zen Technology, SILKAN, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc, and Leonardo S.P.A., have also entered the market competition with UAV simulator products. The introduction of innovative product ranges and strategic acquisitions and collaborations are some of the prominent strategies adopted by players operating in this market.
An Infographic Representation of Uav Simulator Market
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The UAV simulator 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 current market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the market's growth over recent years.
Value (USD million)
By Product Type
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 659.4 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 2,277.3 million by 2027.
In 2019, the North America market value stood at USD 250.6 million.
Growing at a CAGR of 16.76%, the market will exhibit excellent growth in the forecast period (2020-2027).
The fixed-wing segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.
The increasing demand for UAVs for logistics, agriculture, and construction in various countries and the introduction of innovative simulator software by market players are the key factors driving market growth.
L3 Harris, Northrop Grumman, and CAE are the major players in the global market.
North America dominated the market share in 2019.
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