The military airborne laser is designed as a compact, high-efficiency laser system that meets the required size, weight, and power constraints of a fighter aircraft. The military airborne laser systems are used for marking targets, guiding munitions, missile defense, electro-optical countermeasures (EOCM), and blinding troops. Airborne lasers mounted on jet aircraft and helicopters must be small enough to not strike the airframes, and powerful enough to shoot down enemy aircraft and missiles; they also need to be able to take out ground targets like combat vehicles, radar installations, and missile launchers. Significant investment has been done on the development of airborne laser systems, and the market is expected to witness a rapid growth during the forecast period.
However, only a few companies are working on the development of airborne laser systems, due to lack of awareness among end-users, high development cost, regulatory hurdles, and technological constraints; hence, this is the major restraint for the market growth. The major technological constraints faced by aircraft operators are high power consumption, extensive use of toxic chemicals, the complex system for locating targets, and integration of laser with other systems. Apart from technical constraints, there are also political issues which companies face in the development of airborne lasers. For instance, Boeing YAL-1 airborne laser project was ended by the U.S. Department of Defense due to high capital expenditure requirement for maintenance and operations purposes.
The increased focus on advancing commercial technologies will enable the flight operators to offer new growth opportunities for the market players. Another key driver contributing to the growth is the increasing use of high-speed laser for military applications. For instance, Lockheed Martin signed a contract with the U.S. Airforce to develop and produce high-power fiber laser weapons for tactical fighter aircraft. Another instance would be Northrop Grumman signing a contract with Morocco’s military to supply 172 laser rangefinders to assist soldiers in locating and identifying enemy targets.
Recently, the Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control (ABC) was developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and AFRL, to enable military aircrafts engage enemy aircrafts and missiles above, below, and behind the aircraft using high-energy lasers. The recent developments in airborne laser bolster the growth of the market during the forecast period. Several modern and reliable techniques used for obtaining fast and accurate terrain imagery and models, such as LIDAR system, Long Range Finder, are used for a variety of applications across a wide range of industries, including agriculture, forestry, mining, aerospace and defense, construction, and infrastructure development. LIDAR system component segment comprises of hardware such as lasers, scanners, interface devices, and software, among others.
Among product type, 3D scanning is widely used and has the largest market share while in technology sub-segment, solid-state has the largest demand in the military airborne laser market during the forecast period due to the continuous rise in the R&D activities of military laser systems in the U.S., as well as in emerging economies such as India and China.
On the basis of geographical regions, the market is segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. The North America region is expected to dominate the market in future, owing to increasing surveying and mapping applications. The Asia Pacific region is second to the North America region, as a result of the growing border disputes in this region; emerging economies such as China and India are the leading markets, while Japan also plays an important role. Thus, the global military airborne laser market is estimated to witness a CAGR of 9% for the forecast period of 2018 till 2023.
Newport Corporation (U.S.), Northrop Grumman Corporation (U.S.), Lockheed Martin Corporation (U.S.), Thales Group (France), Raytheon Company (U.S.), American Laser Enterprises LLC (U.S.), BAE Systems PLC (U.K.), Frankfurt Laser Company (Germany), and Saab AB (Sweden).