Just released is NSR’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Satcom and Imaging Markets, 3rd Edition report that projects cumulative revenue opportunity of $19.9 billion for UAS satellite communications and $3.7 billion for commercial UAS imaging service during the 2015-2025 period.
The persistent demand for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) by the Defense & Intelligence community in hostile areas drives the demand for unmanned airborne solutions. Ongoing conflicts across the globe have pushed this demand from government and international organizations, who are increasingly using UAS for peacekeeping, border patrolling, and humanitarian efforts. However, such demand for large UAS platforms is becoming difficult to match with supply, as most manufacturing programs across the globe are delayed. NSR projects more than 5,000 active UAS Satcom units by 2025, with Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) airframes accounting for 80 percent of the growth.
The commercial UAS imaging services industry is estimated at approx. $200 million globally, without accounting for manufacturing revenues of the airframes, and is projected to bring in annual revenues of over $550 million annually by 2025, largely driven by demand for image analytics and surveying/inspection services for industries. The young commercial UAS imaging industry is going through major change as the focus shifts to serving enterprise over consumer markets. Post a few market failures and industry consolidation in the last year, NSR believes this market will continue growing rapidly, especially in North America, Europe, and Asia.
The ecosystem around UAS market potential, especially with the focus on HTS, new airframe designs, M2M/IoT, Artificial Intelligence and geospatial Big Data technology, sets the stage for explosive growth opportunities for the UAS market. The satellite industry can tap into this opportunity, as some of these large HALE and MALE UAS are customers of satellite services, whereas smaller UAS add a complement to satellite imaging services.
Prateep Basu, NSR Analyst and report author, stated that across the UAS industry value-chain, there are opportunities for the satellite industry, especially in SATCOM services, as payloads and sensor suites get more sophisticated and the end-customer demands more bandwidth with the emergence of applications like slow-motion video in real-time. For smaller sized UAS, imaging is the primary application and the trend is to move towards analytics-based services, combining imagery data from UAS with other datasets such as weather, satellite images and geo-location. As civilian airspace regulations are established globally, this market is expected to mature quickly and adopt a service-oriented business approach over the current manufacturing focus.