Aug 04. Technological advances and changes in military doctrine are poised to create pockets of strong growth within the mature European military airborne radar markets. Growing at an estimated annual average of 4.3 percent from 2003 to 2013, the total market is forecast to reach $4.6 billion.
“Radar will continue to be important – and therefore a profitable business to be in – due to its ability to provide what procuring agencies need, i.e. standoff capability, ‘all-weather’ operation and information superiority,” comments Chris Dabrowski, analyst at Frost & Sullivan (http://www.aerospace.frost.com).
Rapid technological progress is making radar technology attractive as an upgrade for existing as well as new, smaller platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The focus is on developing high-performance radars with lower weight, price and volume and higher signal processing speeds with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) at the forefront of such advances.
New defence doctrines are also creating growth opportunities for radar manufacturers. Most European countries have identified radar as a “strategically important” technology in which they should develop self-sufficiency. This is also being seen as a means to close the ‘technology gap’ with the United States.
Such policy changes are creating a framework within which governments and defence companies’ interests dovetail. The establishment of a ‘Remote Sensing Defence Technology Centre’ by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence with the lead contractor, BAE Systems, illustrates the ways in which public-private sector interests can be leveraged for mutual benefit.
Governments are compensating for troop reductions with improved military technologies. Reduced troop numbers notwithstanding, countries are meeting increased international military commitments through the acquisition of relevant technology capabilities.
At the same time, such rationalisation measures have caused militaries to boost their return on investments in current programmes by prolonging their use. As a result, fleet upgrade programmes (expected to gain greatest momentum toward the end of the decade) are offering exciting revenue potential for participants that have been unable to win contracts for new build projects.
Unlike the unified U.S. defence market, its highly fragmented European counterpart continues to present problems for competitors. Fragmentation has resulted in inefficient spending both in terms of duplicated research and development (R&D) efforts and in procurement, where order quantities have typically been lower and consequently higher in cost per unit. Restructuring in European defence procurement is, therefore, likely to be critical in ensuring that growth opportunities in the European defence market are maximised.
Fire control/attack is currently the largest segment in the European military airborne radar market, while UAVs is the smallest but fastest growing. With combined US and European military UAV expenditure forecast to surpass EUR 25 billion over the next ten years, exciting growth prospects await associated radar markets.
Radar payloads are likely to have the need of being tailored to the specific requirements of this growing market – highly integrated, modular and with low power/weight. Here, SAR is being regarded as a key growth area in sensors for UAVs. A unique combination of capabilities such as ‘all weather’, high resolution and wide-area situational awareness/cueing are giving SAR the edge over other sensor technologies such as electro-optic (EO) systems.
Apart from military markets, cross-selling opportunities are emerging for UAV radars in the civil/commercial arena. Potential applications include weather monitoring, border surveillance and search and rescue.
“The challenges in transferring from military markets are educating the client base, understanding the needs of a large and diverse user group and providing attractive solutions in a