* Global spending on unmanned aerial vehicles is poised for a major expansion in the coming decade as militaries invest about $98 billion in new intelligence gathering and strike capabilities, experts say.
The Teal Group, an aerospace and defense industry market analysis firm, expects worldwide research-and-development and procurement spending on drones to rise from a projected $11.1 billion in 2020 to $14.3 billion by 2029--nearly a 30 percent increase. R&D spending is forecasted to grow from $3.2 billion in 2020 to $4 billion in 2029, and procurement funding is projected to ramp up from $7.9 billion in 2020 to about $10.3 billion by the end of the decade.
"UAVs remains one of the most dynamic sectors" in the defense market, said senior analyst Steve Zaloga, co-author of the Teal Group's recently released annual study, "World Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems 2019/2020 Market Profile and Forecast," which looks ahead 10 years.
The United States will continue to lead the pack, he said, with R&D spending increasing from an estimated $2.2 billion in 2020 to $2.7 billion in 2029, and procurement ramping up from $2.5 billion in 2020 to about $3.3 billion by the end of the decade. Billions of additional dollars are expected to be invested when classified programs are taken into account, he noted.
Several factors will drive the anticipated rise in global investment in the platforms, according to Zaloga.
One is that many armed forces are acquiring unmanned aerial vehicles for the first time and pursuing new capabilities, he said.
There is a growing demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets as nations focus on information warfare, he noted.
"This is basically the extension of that," Zaloga said. "Although a lot of people think of drones as being attack systems, the vast majority, well over 90 percent, are in fact ISR platforms."
Additionally, the ability to conduct unmanned strike operations at very long distances offers advantages that appeal to buyers, he said.
"The early drone systems tended to be oriented towards ISR missions. Now we're seeing an increasing fraction being devoted to armed missions," Zaloga noted.
In the past, weapons were added to existing...