Surging UAS

By John Liang / December 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Thinking about getting into the unmanned aerial systems market? It may be tough -- but it can be done, according to a new analysis from Frost & Sullivan:

Defense companies that wish to claim a stake in the intensely competitive unmanned aircraft system (UAS) market will find the task challenging. Mature technologies, coupled with increasing consolidation, are making the UAS market a difficult space to enter. These challenges are not likely to hold back the market, especially with the Department of Defense's (DoD's) demand for UAS at an all-time high due to the ongoing war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


"By focusing on UAS subsystems, the U.S. defense industry will still be able to take advantage of a market space that is rapidly changing both technologically and competitively," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Lindsay Voss. "Six years after the onset of rapid UAS procurement, the U.S. DoD is still demanding more persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets in the air. This ensures growth in the UAS space while many other areas of aerospace and defense are contracting."

But while the "overwhelming demand for constant ISR from warfighters has kicked the UAS market into overdrive, stimulating dramatic growth for key UAS companies," don't think it will be an easy market to get into, the Frost & Sullivan statement reads:

New participants are not likely to find the going as easy as the entrenched competitors. Companies that could provide an 80 percent UAS solution ten years ago dominate the market today across all key platform categories. Market domination by well-established companies has already driven some participants out of the market and forced others to diversify their product and/or service offerings.

"Diversification is proving to be an important strategy as new market participants seek to be profitable in the UAS space," observes Voss. "Companies that are able to offer value to their military customers through current product offerings while expanding into key UAS market sub-segments are improving their competitive positions."

Inside the Pentagon had a UAS-related story in this week's issue:

JROC To Review ICDs For Air Force UAS Flight Plan, MQ-X In Early 2010
The Joint Requirements Oversight Council is slated early next year to review two key initiatives tied to Air Force efforts to bolster unmanned aerial system capabilities on the battlefield, a service official tells Inside the Pentagon.

Service officials expect to brief the JROC, which is headed by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright, on the initial capabilities documents (ICDs) for its UAS flight plan and its next-generation UAS, dubbed MQ-X, according to the official.

“The MQ-X initial capabilities document, we are doing a little rewrite on that and take it back through,” the official said. “It will be the same timing as the flight plan ICD, and my guess ((is)) it will hit the JROC around February or March.”