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The compositions and technical features of the current US UAV force was heavily shaped by short-term war requirement for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Systems were acquired to fulfill immediate tactical needs, even if not entirely ideal. With both Iraq and Afghanistan fading in the rear-view mirror, the services are beginning to take a fresher look at future UAV requirements.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a jetliner market bust cycle. Other than the 737 MAX production stop, we haven’t seen topline output fall since 2002-03. Before that, this industry had been defined by serious downturns every seven years, an unpleasant pattern that stretched back to the start of the jet age in the 1950s.
Yet as a result of this remarkable 16-year run, there’s a new generation of managers who’ve never experienced anything like what we’re about to see. For them, and as a reminder to industry veterans, here’s my guide to six things we can expect.
The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) has been the U.S. Army’s overarching strategy to establish a single integrating framework to create a joint expeditionary (on the move) network of networks for communications and C4I. In both wars in Iraq, in 1990-91 and 2003, U.S. forces outran their own communications networks, and today’s increasing dependence on C4ISR information has made a high-rate-of-movement mobile broadband communications network even more important.
Teal Group’s Military Electronics Briefing covers a multitude of Raytheon’s primary airborne FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) sensor ball systems for helicopters and slow-flying fixed wing aircraft, including UAVs. Recent updates include the AN/AAS-44 MTS/MTS-N & AAS-52 MTS-A & DAS-1/4 MTS-B & AAS-53/DAS-2 CSP Multi-spectral Targeting Systems, as well as speculative forecasts for MTS/CSP-scale Future MALE UAV EO/IR Sensors and Future Manned EO/IR Sensors
Lockheed Martin’s AH-64D/E Apache M-TADS/PNVS (Modernized-Target Acquisition and Data System/Pilot Night Vision System) (was called Arrowhead) will be the most valuable EO/IR targeting system program over the next decade by quite a margin – Teal Group forecasts a total of more than 2,400 M-TADS/PNVS systems will ultimately be produced, with total program funding in our forecast period to be worth more than $6.2 billion (almost $1 billion annually for the next couple of years).
This is going to be a milestone year for US military space. Since 1994, the Air Force has relied on the EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) program to launch its satellites. The central feature of EELV has been to ensure regular, flexible access to space by having two available launch vehicle programs from which to choose. It’s a kind of insurance plan in case one vehicle fails and it is unable to launch again soon.
Navy Starts Conventional Prompt Strike Missile Program Evidence of the growing Pentagon interest in hypersonic missiles, several exploratory programs have been shifted into engineering development over the past year. In 2019, DARPA relinquished control over the Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, with the effort transferred to the Navy’s Strategic Systems Program.
In terms of aerospace, the market for civil UAS promises to be one of the most dynamic growth sectors for the next decade, emerging from a $5 billion annual market in 2019 to almost triple to $14.5 billion by 2028. That represents a 12.5% compound annual growth rate in constant dollars. Over the next 10 years the market totals $97.6 billion.