Both Civil and Military Needs Driving European UAV Market
San Jose – Jan 07, 2004
Recent military developments and the United States’ inclination to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is expanding the global market for these systems and accelerating the development of such specialised weapons in Europe, reveal latest findings by Frost & Sullivan.
Over the last two decades, the propensity for small-scale, low-intensity conflicts (LIC) has increased dramatically worldwide. As various armies participate in more expeditionary roles in overlapping geographic areas and use interoperable systems, seamless information sharing has become vital.

“UAVs play a key role in the run for battlespace information dominance and will be increasingly present in future conflicts,” notes Shai Shammai, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Their strongest selling point is probably their endurance capability of quietly loitering over targets for over 24 hours.”

Another strong appeal to the military sector is the ability of the technology to enable remote fighting, reducing the number of troops in the front line. With better viewing and launching angles than helicopters, modern UAVs are more accurate and cause less collateral damage.

In Europe, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy will invest most heavily in UAVs. France, Germany and Israel already hosts some of the leading UAV manufacturers such as Elbit, IAI, Sagem SA, EADS and Dassault Aviation, and is gearing up for the next generation of UAVs.

The European aggregated military UAV budget is expected to reach around EUR 5.5 billion between 2003 and 2012.

“This is a clear indication of a market willing to rely on UAV solutions. Application-wise, the market is moving into tactical UAVs (TUAVs) and lethal UAVs (LUAVs), and possibly high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAVs and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs),” reports Shammai.

European manufacturers lag far behind their US competitors and the largest gap lies within the HALE UAVs and UCAV segments. While the United States already has an operational HALE system, the Global Hawk, Europe is yet to develop any corresponding application. With respect to UCVAs, the United States invests heavily in these applications and expected to have an operational application by the end of the decade. Europe is engage in a couple of project yet not in the same level of intensity.

With the realisation that unmanned aircraft form the aerial weapons of the future, the United Kingdom might abandon its plans to acquire more Eurofighters and instead increase focus on developing UAV based capabilities.

There are high expectations from the commercial and civil markets for UAVs in Europe. In civil and commercial applications, UAVs are deemed capable of replacing manned aircraft as well as some ground and satellite applications.

In the commercial market, increasing potential client awareness of these novel applications and developing business models that eliminate initial high investments can drive up market revenues. The introduction of a pay per usage (PPU) model, for example, allows customers to pay only for flying hours instead of requiring a purchase of the system.

The commercial market is also application-led, where customers are more interested in cost-effective value additions than the technology itself. Hence, UAV manufacturers need to focus on comprehensive solutions with short investments cycles. Initially, the demand market is likely to be dominated by big companies such as oil majors that operate in remote non-urban environments and have potentially fast payback times.

In the civil markets, most UAV deployments are expected to be intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications. The challenge for manufacturers would be to introduce downgraded, cheaper military applications. The growing focus on homeland security solutions is the main revenue driver as the European Union expands and new ISR needs emerge.

The demand for HALE UAVs for maritime surveillance is also expected to grow with Europe’s need to monitor its coastline for security and environmental protection. Potential applications for UAVs include wildfire monitoring, illegal fishery monitoring and swifter oil spill discovery.