Militaries Ramping Up Use of Unmanned Ground, Sea and Air Vehicles


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Militaries are becoming increasingly reliant on unmanned ground, sea and aerial vehicles to carry out dull, dirty and dangerous missions, according to new insights from IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO), a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions. 

“Unmanned military ground, sea and air vehicle technology is evolving rapidly and we are seeing strong growth across all three sectors over the next five to ten years,” said Derrick Maple, principal analyst for unmanned systems at IHS Jane’s. 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) 

Over the next 10 years, UAV sales will exceed $82 billion globally. “Growing global tension and the foreseen increasing role of UAVs in operations will keep demand high,” Maple said. 

IHS Jane’s forecasts sales of 63,000 new UAVs in the next decade. “We are seeing increased focus on cost-effective and flexible systems, as well as smaller and more efficient sensors and communication systems,” Maple said. “Additionally, we are seeing increases in mission endurance times. The Zephyr 8/S is a pseudo-satellite UAV and can operate autonomously for months due to electric power from its battery and solar panels.” 

Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) 

“UGVs demonstrated their capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and were important in combating the threat of IEDs,” Maple said. “But, many UGVs were delivered a decade or more ago and have been superseded by new technology, such as enhanced sensors and systems. Many will need updating within the next five to 10 years.” 

Between 2016 and 2025, IHS Jane’s forecasts a delivery potential of 30,000 unmanned ground vehicles mostly to replace old inventory. The forecast for the sector projects a growth from around $200 million in sales in 2016, to approximately $800 million by 2025. In the 2016 to 2025 timeframe, approximately $4.9 billion will be spent on unmanned ground vehicles globally. 

Growing applications for new generation systems, such as bomb squads and emergency service sectors, will also keep demand growing in the five- to 10-year outlook. 

Unmanned Sea Vehicles (USV) 

Unmanned sea vehicles have been used for decades for mine hunting and disposal, but are still at a relatively early stage of development. “We are seeing USVs used in a variety of ways including anti-submarine warfare, counter terrorism, anti-smuggling, harbor surveillance and an increasing use in littoral waters,” Maple said. 

Unmanned sea vehicles sales will grow from just over $400 million in 2016 to over $900 million by 2025. IHS Jane’s forecast total USV sales between 2016 and 2025 to hit $6.5 billion. Many suppliers are offering products across military and civil markets with more modular system designs to integrate surface and underwater system solutions. 

Systems Interoperability 

Integration is at the heart of future missions and tomorrow’s world will involve complex teaming of manned, unmanned and optionally manned assets with much higher system autonomy, the IHS Jane’s report said. 

“Unmanned systems provide operational differentiation and those forces that do not invest in this capability will be at a significant disadvantage,” Maple said. “With technology advancing at such a pace, a myriad of applications will unfold limited only by the imagination of the designer.” 

Intelligence cut-off date 10 November 2016. 

About IHS Markit  

IHS Markit is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 key business and government customers, including 85 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

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