The global loitering munition market was valued at US$ 972.44 million in 2022 and is expected to reach US$ 1,539.02 million by 2028; it is anticipated to register a CAGR of 8.4% from 2023 to 2028.
The loitering munitions market is expected to benefit from increased modularity, increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and swarm technology, mission modules, and increased sensor capabilities over the forecast period. The rising adoption of unmanned systems is projected to offer various growth opportunities for the loitering munition market growth. Loitering munitions are engineered with seamless, persistent, and robust sensor-to-shooter links, ensuring the shortest loop between acquisition and targeting. Furthermore, integrating mission modules enables greater flexibility and a lower cost of operations, as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) roles can be fulfilled before a munition. Loitering munitions are anticipated to become a game-changer in artillery and fill the existing voids in surveillance-precision engagement capability between 40 and 200 km. Various countries are investing in enhancing their defense systems with advanced warfare technologies such as autonomous weapon systems. For instance, in February 2023, the defense ministry of Estonia announced the procurement of a significant quantity of loitering munitions, which is expected to be delivered in 2024. The purchase of an undisclosed number of loitering munitions is expected to be concluded in the first quarter of 2023. Such growing demand for advanced warfare technologies is projected to witness an upward trend over the forecast period.
The utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in the military produces new and smart systems that redefine how the combat force is projected on a battlefield. Weapon systems are increasingly getting smaller, more flexible, more precise, more intelligent, and more robust. Autonomous weapon systems have several operational advantages, including speed and agility. They can make decisions faster than human operators, and they do not need to constantly communicate with human operators to function. As smart loitering munition does not involve human operators cognitive and physical limitations, it becomes more accurate and resilient than those operators. As a result, the defense industry is witnessing a rising trend of autonomous weapon systems.
In order to adopt the growing trend of autonomous weapon systems, various loitering munition market players are launching smart loitering munitions, a fully autonomous weapon system that can search, identify, decide, and engage targets independently without any human intervention. For instance, in December 2022, ROKETSAN and STM joined forces to develop ALPAGUT, a smart loitering munition system. It is capable of operating day and night, and it will be effective against mobile or stationary targets, on land or at sea, radar and communication systems, light armored land and sea vehicles, critical facilities such as command centers, personnel, and targets of opportunity. It offers an operational radius of 60 kilometers, an endurance of more than 60 minutes, and can be used individually or in swarm configurations. Hence, the deployment of smart loitering munitions is expected to be a prominent loitering munition market trend over the forecast period.
The loitering munition market size is categorized on the basis of type and platform. Based on type, the loitering munition market is divided into fixed wing and rotary wing. The fixed wing segment held a larger loitering munition market share in 2022. Based on platform, the loitering munition market is segmented into air, naval, and land. The land segment contributed the largest loitering munition market share in 2022.
Lockheed Martin Corporation, WB Group, IAI, UVision Air Ltd, Elbit Systems Ltd, STM Savunma Teknolojileri Mhendislik ve Ticaret A, AVision Systems Pvt Ltd, Aeronautics Ltd, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and AeroVironment are a few of the key loitering munition market players operating across different regions. The listing of key players is derived by considering multiple parameters such as overall revenue, brand image, loitering munition contracts, current loitering munition portfolio in terms of number of models, technology integration & product enhancements, geographic reach, new product/feature launches, market initiatives, mergers & acquisitions, and other market-related activities. In addition to these players, multiple other leading global and regional market players, emerging companies, market disruptors and niche market players operating in the market ecosystem were also studied and analyzed during this study.