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Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, US DoD UAS Market, Forecast to 2023, reveals that the importance of military unmanned aerial systems (UAS) continues to increase as combatant commanders grow accustomed to receiving 24/7 battlefield surveillance and will demand more as adversaries embrace innovative equipment and technologies. The United States (US) Department of Defense (DoD) is focusing on investing in small tactical UAS as these systems offer a wide range of capabilities while reducing logistic footprints and operational manpower. U.S. DoD UAS funding is expected to easily exceed $6 billion during the forecast period.
“Growth opportunities exist in developing and adopting advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that enable swarming, autonomous flight and automated data processing and exploitation. Disruptive innovations including autonomous drones, transitional drones, and manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capabilities will also drive growth in the market,” said Michael Blades, Research Director, Defense at Frost & Sullivan.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have accelerated and will continue with large and medium-sized firms looking to gain advanced capabilities through investment rather than internal research and development (R&D). The focus though, is likely to shift to strategic partnerships where smaller, innovative companies will retain the ability to operate with the flexibility and tempo that makes them competitive in an environment where technological change is rapidly occurring.
Three strategic imperatives for players to succeed and grow in an evolving market include:
- Developing sophisticated software and hardware that enable autonomous operations
- Focusing on achieving interoperability across domains and with existing manned and unmanned systems
- Offering UAS as a service where platforms are rapidly deployable and have modular capabilities to allow for quick upgrades.
“Despite significant opportunities, US budget and political uncertainties could adversely affect the DoD’s planning strategies,” noted Blades. “UAS market competitors must be aware of potential changes to trade agreements and foreign sales rules and have contingency plans for if/when they are implemented.”
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