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Military drone market to register a double-digit CAGR over 2017-2024, rising prevalence of government-controlled operations to stimulate the industry landscape

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The changing face of warfare in the recent years has been a pivotal factor stimulating military drone market. Aided by cumulative product demand and rapidly progressive technological advancements, this vertical is expected to add a new dimension to the evolving smart industry. Ironically, the latest news about the U.S. military having developed drones that can decide who to kill has created major undulations in military drone industry. As a potential aftermath, the world is still debating over what such a technology can mean for the future of warfare and war ethics. However, it would be fair to state that the advantages of using drones in warfare and military operations have surpassed all debatable boundaries. This is quite evident from the estimates that claim military UAV market share to register a CAGR of 12% over 2017-2024.

U.S. Military Drone Market Share, By Product, 2016
U.S. Military Drone Market Share, By Product, 2016

Military drones: a popular weapon in modern warfare

It has been anticipated that North America, by 2024, will be accounting for 70% of the overall military drone market share. This expansive growth can be aptly credited to the heavy adaptation of drones in civil applications and the ongoing ‘War on Terror’ that the U.S. is current involved in. Till date, the United States has carried out several lethal drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Incidentally, these are the countries that the U.S. and its allies are not openly at war with, as is the case with Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. As a measure to extend the reach of the war against terrorism, the U.S. has also concentrated its drone campaigns in North Africa, using Predator drones for surveillance and targeting radical terrorist groups. Undeniably, U.S. has emerged as a viable revenue pocket for North America military drone market.

Of late, drones are being designed with an element of human intelligence that make for highly effective weapons to locate and targeting terrorist operations and have effectively shifted the cost calculation for battles. Drones can be deployed for longer period of time and with less inconvenience to human resource. Specialized military drones in fact, are more lethal at reduced financial cost and potentially diminish the risk of life for those who control these drones as compared to ground forces or piloted aircraft. Driven by their highly commendable advantages, it has been forecast that military UAV market outlook looks rather promising for the future, where there are chances for increased covert drone warfare and less declared warfare.

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The effectiveness of military drones, as demonstrated by the United States, has caught the attention of nations that have been aiming to achieve a robust arsenal of weapons. Thus, countries like China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey have invested in research and development of drone programs, a trend indicating the strong growth of the military drone industry in future. China recently set a world record in its demonstration of drone swarm, a topic of much discussion for its implications in the future of warfare. China has used the popular notion of using an overwhelming number of drones to gain tactical advantage over a target and flown 1108 dronebots as a single unit to exhibit the skill of its drones in autonomous flight capabilities and intelligent use of instruments.

Beyond military uses

Apart from purely military uses, these UAVs have been successfully deployed to carry out other government-controlled operations like search and rescue, wildfire containment, surveillance and law enforcement, further adding stimulus to military drone market. For instance, the Police Aviation Administration Office in China have put 300 police drones to patrol areas that are too difficult for the police to access. These drones have successfully collected information about drug manufacturing dens and have facilitated police raids in these areas. In the U.S., Predator B drones have been deployed for US Mexico border patrol to stop illegal border crossing across the remote mountains, rivers and canyons. These instances provide pivotal evidence that military UAV industry is here to stay.

With the proliferation of advancements in military drone market and the changing implications these developments will have on warfare, regional governments plan to establish a common ground to discuss and set guidelines for the sustainable and beneficial use of military drones while safeguarding human interests. As the use of drones have far reaching consequences that are not limited to warfare, the trend for developing and using military drones across myriad applications will continue to remain consistent in the next few years. As per estimates, military drone market size will be pegged at USD 13 billion by 2024.

Author Name : Paroma Bhattacharya