Market Overview: —
Laser systems are widely in military and defense which includes rangefinders, illuminators, laser weapons, directed energy weapons and infrared countermeasures. Laser weapons are capable and utilized as both lethal and non-lethal weapons. Laser systems are also utilized for military communications, for example, laser-based ground to air communications, and other applications such as airborne laser mine detection, which provides a rapid wide-area mine detection capability. Also, there has been a huge spending on such military laser systems R&D programs.
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The laser systems are being utilized for offensive as well as defensive operations by the military for various air, ground, naval and space operations. Laser based weapons are also used by different countries and is considered as the weapons of the future. This demand for military laser systems and mainly the laser based weapons has mostly helped the growth of the global military laser systems market. Also, the military and defense segment spends a substantial amount of budget on R&D and weapon development projects.
Over the years, there has been high demand for laser systems from military and defense sector, mainly used as laser weapons and for defense purposes. There has been high demand for laser systems for purposes such as HELLADS, which is a counter-attack system that uses laser to shoot down rocket, artillery, and mortar. Military and defense worldwide are using the laser based systems for various other purposes ranging from range finding, target designation, anti-missile systems, and to neutralize the opponent's weapon systems.
Laser based systems also suffer from various technical and operational challenges. Lasers are prone to dirt, wind, cloud and weather conditions, as it could affect the range of the laser. It has thus remained a challenge for laser weapons as well. The adverse weather conditions affect the infrared laser beam's power and range.
Also, the laser based weapons require enough power and hence the cooling system, which results in bulky and inefficient systems as prevalent in current laser weapons systems. It is thus difficult to integrate such weapons into the small military vehicles. Also, it is hard to scale up the limited power of the current laser weapons due to the lack of efficient thermal management capability, which causes excessive heating and hence the breakdown of the system. The operational safety is one of the other challenges for laser based systems, as a missed laser beam from a laser weapon could hit friendly aircraft, vessel or satellites as well.
The global military laser systems market is highly competitive. There exists strong rivalry and competition among existing vendors; in terms of cost, technology, and to win major military deals and projects in various emerging and established markets. To survive and succeed in such an intensely competitive environment, it is crucial for the vendors to develop highly capable and efficient laser systems and also need to involve in major laser weapon development projects.
Five of the key vendors in the global military laser systems market are BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Thales Group. They primarily focus on the implementation of lightweight materials, electric technologies, and robust systems.
The laser systems are also expected to pave the way for next-gen weapon systems. The laser-based weapons could be used as a defense system for manned and unmanned aircrafts, to save it from heat-seeking missiles. DARPA in cooperation with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin has been actively working towards the development of such systems. It aims to develop such laser weapons to defend the aircraft from EO/IR guided surface-to-air missiles. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a next-gen laser weapon system, that would be ten times lighter and more compact than the current high power chemical laser systems, and which could be mounted on a pod to the manned aircraft and UAVs.
The emerging nations such as China and India have also largely put their effort in the development of laser systems for military applications, mainly the laser based weapons. In 2014, China unveiled its laser cannon system that could shoot down UAVs from more than a mile away with a very high accuracy. More than 40 percent of the China's laser research and development capability is focused towards military applications. China has also been investing heavily in the development of advanced laser weapon system and had recently conducted its anti-satellite laser weapon test in 2014.
Similarly, the Indian Ministry of Defense has regrded the development of advanced weapon and DEWs as a top priority for its roadmap till 2020-2025. India has been working on the development of such laser weapons and aims to make it accessible to fighter aircrafts, naval destroyers and submarines by 2025. It is also working on DEWs to improve anti-ballistic missile capability. India's LASTEC, a laboratory developing lasers and related technologies, belonging to the DRDO, has been working to develop such laser weapons for the Indian Armed Forces.
For the convenience of the report and enhanced understanding; the Military Laser Systems market is segmented in to three key dynamics:
Segmentation by Application: Military/Defense and Law Enforcement.
Segmentation by Technology: Laser Fiber, Solid Fiber, Chemical Laser, CO2 Laser, and others.
Segmentation by Regions: Comprises Geographical regions –Americas, Europe, APAC and Middle East and Africa.
The leading market players in the global military laser systems market primarily include Northrop Grumman, Coherent Inc., Lockheed Martin, Thales, Raytheon, American Laser Enterprises, BAE Systems PLC, Frankfurt Laser Company, Quantel, and Newport Corporation.
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