Small UAV Market – Market Overview —
Small UAVs can mainly be classified as mini-UAV and micro-UAV. They are small enough to be carried and operated by a single person. During military operations, they can be launched as a portable air-defense system by infantrymen. The development of small UAVs mainly began in 1997, with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA's) multi-year USD 35 million project to develop micro air vehicles (MAVs).
As a part of the effort, and in collaboration with companies such as Lockheed Martin and Aerovironment, multiple micro UAVs were designed and developed. The relevance and cost-effective operation of these micro UAVs (mainly for military applications) led to its increased utilization and demand.
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Mini-UAVs, are larger than micro-UAVs but still compact, are used for military as well as civil-commercial applications. Bayraktar mini-UAV and Imperial Eagle are few of the examples of mini-UAVs mainly used for military applications. For commercial applications, mini-UAVs such as DJI Phantom have become quite popular.
For civil-commercial applications, these small UAVs are mainly equipped with cameras and image sensors for videography and 3D mapping applications. They are also increasingly being used for wind turbine blade and monitoring of oil and gas pipelines.
The cost effectiveness and ease to acquire and operate these small UAVs in comparison to manned aircraft (and other larger UAVs) have led to the increase in demand from multiple segments such as military, industries, agriculture, and real estate. As of 2015, small UAVs are still largely being used by military in conflict regions throughout the world. However, the market growth rate for civil-commercial segment is much higher.
As of 2015, there are persistent hindrances to the civil-commercial applications of small UAVs mainly because of the strict regulations regulating the integration of these UAVs into civilian airspace. However, agencies such as FAA are working to draft regulations that would provide the much-needed guideline, as well as pave the way for wide-scale integration of small UAVs into commercial applications.
Two factors play an important role in the growth of the small UAV market: (1) Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) initiative to ease the operation of civil and commercial UAVs in the US from 2016 and (2) rising demand from the emerging markets, mainly from Middle East and Asia. Many emerging countries (Brazil, China, and India) are using UAVs for various military and civilian applications. Along with the improvement in technology and availability of cost-effective systems, the smaller nations can also include smaller UAVs into their service for tactical and surveillance operations.
Small UAV Market – Competitive Analysis
The leading market players in the global Small UAV market primarily include:
• Elbit Systems
• Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.
• Lockheed Martin
• Aeronautics Limited
• Northrop Grumman
The global Small UAV market is characterized by the presence of many global, regional, and local vendors. The market is highly competitive with all the players competing to gain the maximum market share. Intense competition, rapid advances in technology, frequent changes in government policies, and environmental regulations are key factors that confront the market growth. In addition, in-house manufacturing capabilities, global footprint network, product offerings, R&D investments, and a strong client base have become the key areas to have the edge over the competitors.
The vendors compete based on cost, product quality, reliability, and aftermarket service. It is crucial for the vendors to provide advanced and high-quality helicopters in order to survive and succeed in an intensely competitive market environment.
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Industry/ Innovation/ Related News:
September 19, 2017:- AeroVironment, announced that it has delivered M1/M2/M5-compatible Raven® and Puma™ AE unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to two DoD customers, with more orders and deliveries scheduled. In addition, the company will begin taking orders in December 2017 for M1/M2/M5-configured Wasp® AE micro air vehicles (MAV) for delivery in spring 2018.
June 1, 2017 - Aero Vironment announced the selection of the Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft system by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The ADF Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract calls for the delivery of Wasp AE systems over a three-year period, as well as training and logistics support for up to ten years, for a total AeroVironment contract value of up to USD 36.5 million.
January 13, 2016:- Saab will deliver three UAV systems to the Swedish Police. Each system comprises air vehicles equipped with day/night sensors and a ground station, plus spare parts, consumables, documentation, training and technical support. The contract will be in effect from 2016 to 2018.
September 16, 2015:- Thales’s new modular Watchkeeper X system reflects a growing need for high-end military-standard Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability to wider markets. This modular Unmanned Aircraft System offers a range of options that can be adapted to specific operational resquirements. The versatile system is ideal for providing high-performance ISTAR over a wide range of air, land and maritime scenarios but can now also provide covert, rapid reaction to threats if required. Thales aims to deliver Watchkeeper X through collaboration with local industries and partnerships. This unique approach to unmanned aircrafts systems means that Thales can help to build a truly sovereign capability for our customers.
Small UAV Market – Regional Analysis
The US is the global market leader of both UAV demand and as a manufacturer. It is the largest operator of UAVs globally as well. The majority of this demand is owing to its applications in the military and defense sector, and the US army is the single largest buyer of UAVs worldwide.
Small UAVs no longer perform only ISR missions but has expanded its operations to communication relay, electronic attack, and search and rescue missions.
As of 2015, the US air force is training more UAV pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined. Thus, such a trend further indicates the growing utilization and demand for small UAVs. The US has dominated the global small UAV market mainly because of its investment in research and development and a wide range of production and procurement programs.
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