LONDON–Technavio’s latest market research report on the global light attack and reconnaissance aircraft market provides an analysis on the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2017-2021. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.
The evolving war scenario in the world is shifting the focus of defense forces from heavy firepower toward more stealth and agility. The development of innovative anti-aircraft weapons requires the aircraft to have high evasive capabilities, in addition to fire capabilities.
According to Moutushi Saha, a lead analyst at Technavio for defense research, “A low-cost light attack and reconnaissance aircraft proves to be more effective in both insurgency and counter-insurgency operations. Thus, the global light attack and reconnaissance aircraft market is being promoted by defense forces worldwide. The industry is focused on the development of low-cost but highly effective aircraft.”
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The top three emerging market trends driving the global light attack and reconnaissance aircraft market according to Technavio research analysts are:
- Development of cheaper export variant aircraft by developing countries
- Focus on development of low-cost ISR aircraft
- Extended strike range of light attack aircraft due to integration of laser-guided rockets
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Development of cheaper export variant aircraft by developing countries
The relatively lower cost of manufacturing and labor in developing countries provides them with the edge to develop aircraft and other platforms at a cheaper rate. It is expected that developed countries will opt for the export variants of such aircraft from developing countries and hence, promote the development of aircraft platforms for export.
In 2016, India’s state-owned HAL unveiled its first prototype of a light aircraft. The aircraft is equipped with zero-zero ejection seats, fourth-generation avionics, multi-functional displays, and weapon systems to deliver precision-guided munitions. The development of similar aircraft by other developing countries is expected to drive down the prices of light attack and reconnaissance aircraft worldwide and attract prospective buyers who are currently burdened by huge defense budgets for aircraft development and procurement.
Focus on development of low-cost ISR aircraft
Over the last decade, the development expense of military aircraft has escalated manifold due to which defense agencies are focusing towards the development of aircraft to minimize costs. Most countries are focusing on developing and acquiring ISR aircraft that only have essential combat capabilities and can be maintained easily.
For instance, in 2015, the US deployed a propeller-driven light attack and reconnaissance aircraft against militant targets in Iraq, which proved to be highly effective. The huge benefits in terms of cost of development, procurement, and operations of these aircraft is expected to propel defense authorities to concentrate on the development of low-cost ISR aircraft.
Extended strike range of light attack aircraft due to integration of laser-guided rockets
Light attack and reconnaissance aircraft can transport soldiers faster and farther inland than conventional heavy aircraft. However, one of the major problems with light attack and reconnaissance aircraft is that they lack the aviation fire support required for escort missions during heavy fire. Conventional aircraft, such as the F-35 aircraft that have heavy firepower, are high-value assets which are too expensive to be employed for close air support of dismounted soldiers.
The development and integration of laser-guided rockets has emerged as an innovative solution for light attack and reconnaissance aircraft. Earlier, light attack and reconnaissance aircraft were limited by the short range of their fire-weapons and had to get very close to the battleground to provide ground support. This was very risky for the light attack and reconnaissance aircraft because they were vulnerable against close-range enemy fire due to their light armor. However, the use of laser-guided rockets has increased the firing range of such light attack and reconnaissance aircraft.
“By using laser target designators, light attack and reconnaissance aircraft can mark a target from very long ranges and then fire the laser-guided rockets that will automatically track and hit the target. This eliminates the need for light attack and reconnaissance aircraft to get close to the battleground to fire at a target,” says Moutushi.
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