Military Laser Systems Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2030)
The military laser systems market is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 7% during the forecast period (2021 - 2030).
COVID-19 has deleteriously affected the defense supply chain, which has usually been resilient to global trade shocks. The existing practice of protectionism has increased the transaction costs, making previously established arrangements uneconomical. In some cases, specific trade sanctions have made it impossible for producers to maintain relationships with suppliers, especially with respect to high technology goods. The trade obstacles were escalated by COVID-19 and the production schedules for several military equipment have already been disrupted. The pandemic is likely to negatively affect conflict dynamics in the short to medium term through its detrimental and asymmetric economic impact on middle and particularly low-income countries, partly due to local restrictions, but more importantly due to falling demands for key exports from high-income countries. The COVID-19 pandemic could also influence regional capability planning as strategic priorities change and societal resilience and non-military threats become higher priorities. Furthermore, defense firms using multi-sourced components may consider that it is in their interests to reduce reliance on components from other regions due to the potential of similar supply chain disruptions. In addition, a potential move to reduce dependency on international suppliers could increase supply chain costs for arms producers.
The military laser systems market is driven by the increasing demand for such systems from the global armed forces for integration into a variety of weaponry. The inherent benefits of such systems, including high accuracy, traversal speed, and cost-effectiveness, are also driving the adoption of such systems. However, the inherent capital-intensive nature of the defense electronics industry due to the high associated cost of R&D, and the recent COVID-19 induced disruption in the global supply chain are some of the factors that may hinder the growth of the market in focus during the forecast period.
The innovations in multiple kilowatt laser combination techniques, beam control technology for energy adjustment, and the use of artificial intelligence are propelling the growth of laser-directed energy weapons (DEWs). The existing DEWs are focused on defensive functions such as safeguarding critical facilities against missiles, drones, and boats. Defense firms and organizations are investing in R&D for expanding the current applications of DEWs. The directed energy weapons segment will see a surge in the future owing to the arms race between the global military powerhouses. DEWs are expected to be equipped with combat platforms and deployed along with conventional weapons by 2025. The United States plans to install laser defense weapon system HELIOS (High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-Dazzler with Surveillance) on its destroyers from 2021. These systems will enhance the defense against hypersonic projectiles that can evade even the AEGIS missile defense system, thereby enhancing the aerial defense capabilities of the military. Such developments are expected to propel the growth of the segment during the forecast period.
The defense industry in the region is mature and strongly supported by a robust R&D infrastructure. The country has put forth several programs in recent years aimed at developing laser-based weapon technologies. The military is currently aiming to install various laser-based weapon and defense systems on ground vehicles, ships, as well as aircraft. In 2019, the US Army started working on equipping Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters with Northrop Grumman's DIRCM (Directional Infrared Countermeasure) systems to provide protection against man-portable air defense systems and other heat-seeking projectiles. Additionally, the US Army is also developing the most powerful laser weapon to date, under the Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) program. The US military is already using 100kW-150kW laser weapons and is developing more powerful 300kW laser weapons to counter supersonic cruise missiles. Lockheed Martin's HELIOS, which combines high-energy laser with optical dazzler, is currently being tested by the US Navy on the Aegis Combat System aboard the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer. Further, the US Air Force is testing a high-energy laser weapon system named H2, which was developed by Raytheon Technologies Corporation. Such developments are expected to boost the market growth of North America during the forecast period.
Prominent players in the military laser systems market include Lockheed Martin Corporation, MBDA, The Boeing Company, Raytheon Technologies Corporation, and Northrop Grumman Corporation, among others. The growing adoption of military laser systems across the globe is accredited to growing collaboration and partnerships between various defense manufacturers. The use of laser technologies is growing rapidly in the military, with a lot of scope for innovation. Players are developing several types of advanced laser systems to attract new customers. In February 2020, Rafael tested its Drone Dome C-UAS (Counter Unmanned Aerial System) during which the system identified and intercepted multiple moving UAVs using a high-powered laser beam. The development of such technologies will help the growth of the players in the market during the forecast period.