Optronics, surveillance and sighting systems allow defence forces to effectively locate, track, observe and engage a range of targets in land, airborne and maritime warfare domains both during daylight and after dark. These military-grade systems play a vital role in border security, base protection, patrol and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Unmanned systems have become an integral part of military forces worldwide, reducing the risk of human lives. Due to various benefits offered by UAVs, many countries, such as the US, India, and China, have allocated substantial budgets to deploy more UAVs in their military forces, primarily for surveillance applications.
Deploying optronics surveillance and sighting systems on unmanned platforms facilitates the transmission of surveillance and imagery data. The integration of unmanned systems with communication antennas and other surveillance equipment assist in various critical missions.
Therefore, the increasing deployment of UAVs for airborne and naval surveillance and mapping missions is resulting in a growing need for optronics surveillance and sighting systems that can be effectively integrated within the UAV platform without hampering its overall efficiency. Thus, several major industry players, including Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Lockheed Martin, emphasize on developing and offering optronics surveillance and sighting systems for UAV platforms
Optronics, surveillance and sighting systems designed for military operations include, but are not limited to:
- Military optics for observation, aiming, fire control systems, and bore sighting
- Vision sights and periscopes for armoured vehicle platforms
- Cameras and complex vision systems
- Military-grade night vision and thermal rifle scopes
- Monitoring and surveillance systems, covert sensors and targeting cameras
- Military security cameras and rugged thermal cameras
- Under– vehicle surveillance systems (UVSS) for security monitoring applications
- Thermal and visible long range surveillance camera systems for military applications
Selecting high-performance military security cameras, optronics and sighting systems equipped with specialised sensors and optical components can help improve situational awareness, hit probability, and target engagement capabilities in all weather conditions.
Specialised mounting brackets and gyroscopic stabilisation systems allow various situational awareness solutions to be installed on military platforms.
Military optronics surveillance & sighting system market
The global military optronics surveillance & sighting systems market is expected to grow from US$ 15,099.84 million in 2021 to US$ 21,394.01 million by 2028. It is estimated to register a CAGR of 5.1% during 2021-2028
The military optronics, surveillance & sighting systems market has witnessed slight negative impact during the uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Market players around the globe are experiencing disruption in production. Along with the production irregularities, the sector is facing rising costs of raw materials. In addition to this, logistical and economic hurdles have disrupted sales, development and manufacturing of new military optronics, surveillance & sighting systems. The aforementioned factors have led to the slight decline in growth of the market in the year 2020.
Moreover, increasing number of market players have reduced their R&D activities or cutting down R&D expenses more deeply than other expenses owing to the increased focus on transformation of existing business models and upgradation of their management processes. Also, considerable reduction in the revenue during the pandemic has pushed the defense industry players to reconsider their R&D expenses. This factor has further hampered the growth of the market. However, decline in the growth of the market is short term and market is expected to regain its growth rate from the year 2021 due to surge in demand for military optronics, surveillance & sighting systems fuelled by rising concerns of national security.
Moreover, high budget allocation for advanced military systems and equipment procurement, territorial disputes among the countries, and increasing attacks at the boarders make imagery a crucial aspect in decision-making processes. This factor is expected to raise the adoption of night vision optoelectronic devices in the military and defense sector over the next few years.
Upsurge in demand for advanced and accurate surveillance systems in military sector boosts growth of the market. In addition to this, territorial disputes among the countries has led to the demand for such systems to protect borders of the countries. For example, increasing disputes among China, Vietnam and the Philippines have forced Chinese government agencies to increase its military activities in the South China Sea by conducting a series of naval maneuvers as well as exercises using advanced military optronics, surveillance, & sighting systems.
The military optronics surveillance & sighting systems market is segmented into technology, device type, platform, and geography. Based on technology, the market is categorized into image intensification, military laser systems, and electro-optics/infrared systems.
The electro-optics/infrared segment held the largest share in the market in 2020. In terms of device type, the market is segmented into night vision devices, handheld thermal imaging devices, integrated observation equipment, standalone infrared, seismic and acoustic sensors, and others.
Moreover, rise in demand for modern army equipment and systems to operate during adverse conditions and at night has pushed the significant demand for the field of night vision devices such as camera, scope, and goggles, further boosting growth of the market.
A night vision device provides soldiers with greater situational awareness by illuminating the surroundings during their night-time operations, while thermal imaging help soldiers locate a target in poor visibility conditions. Earlier, night vision devices used relatively heavier components, adding weight to soldiers. However, various market players are focusing on innovation to produce lightweight products keeping their comfort in mind.
For example, ACTinBlack has developed a lightweight binocular night vision device with high optical performance and an ergonomic design. Due to the increasing innovation and the rising threat of terrorist attacks at night, the uptake of night vision devices with thermal imaging is also increasing. The demand for highly advanced individual warfighter systems is gaining momentum in various regions. It is more in demand in Europe and North America, where land forces are looking forward to equipping soldiers with optical devices, personnel protective equipment, and intelligence capabilities, enabling them to perform with utmost competence on the modern battlefield.
In 2020, the seismic and acoustic sensors segment accounted for the most prominent share of the market. Based on platform, the market is classified into ground, airborne, and naval platforms. The ground segment accounted for the largest share in the market in 2020.
Some of prominent companies include HENSOLDT, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Thales Group, L3Harris Technologies, Inc., Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Safran, Ultra, Teledyne FLIR LLC, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
The leading companies focus on the expansion and diversification of their market presence, and acquisition of new customer base, thereby tapping prevailing business opportunities. Prominent players in the market are inclined towards forming strategic alliance with leading players, acquitting and merging with technology experts, new product development, and geographical expansion in order to gain competitive edge in the market.
- In January 2021, Lockheed Martin Corp. announced to build three new next-generation infrared spacecraft to help detect enemy ballistic missile launches.
- In March 2021, Elbit Systems, the Israeli defence company, launched its next-generation advanced multi-sensor payload system (AMPS NG)
- In June 2021, BAE Systems Inc. launched a new cyber threat detection and mitigation product suite to help military customers protect vehicles and systems from cyber threats.
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