Unmanned combat aerial vehicles are replacing many aircraft roles and the high demand for UAVs, or drones, will almost double in a decade. The demand, according to an analysis released by IHS, will expand at 5.5% per year over this decade, from the current figure of $6.4 billion to $10.4 billion A MQ-9 Reaper during a training mission. Source: WikipediaA MQ-9 Reaper during a training mission. Source: Wikipediaby 2024. Principal analyst, unmanned systems for IHS Jane’s, Derrick Maple, says that the systems were well established, combat proven and will be essential and expanding for future operations across the globe.

In 2015, the U.S. is forecast to regain a significant leading position from Israel through the sales of General Atomics Predator series and Northrop Grumman Global Hawk. Regionally, Western Europe is expected to reach $1.3 billion in sales by 2024. China, the Russian Federation, India, South Korea and Japan are increasing their investments and sales for these countries are forecast to total $3.4 billion by 2024, IHS says.

Unmanned combat aerial vehicles, particularly in Afghanistan, will increasingly feature stealth characteristics as well as advanced payloads and weaponry. They will operate alongside manned aircraft and may replace them in many roles. According to Maple, anti-access area denial (A2AD) environments will likely become more prevalent as will the systems’ need to address these. In addition, intelligence of the UAVs is increasing. In the long term, there will be the potential to use swarms of small-unmanned aircraft to attack and jam enemy defenses.

Israel was the top exporter in 2014, followed by the U.S. The two countries shared 71% of UAV exports. In 2015, the U.S. is forecast to have approximately 57% of the total and will grow exports to account for more than two thirds of the market. Israel will retain the number two position. Market shares for Italy, France, Germany and the UK are under pressure, IHS says, withSweden, South Africa and Turkey increasing their market presence.

NATO procurement led imports in 2014 and 2015, and accounts for over 60% of total imports. South Korea, Japan, India and Australia are growing importers and will account for more than 35% of total imports, IHS says.

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