Airborne ISR Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)

The Airborne ISR Market is segmented by Type (Manned, Unmanned), Application (Maritime Patrol, Airborne Ground Surveillance (AGS), Airborne Early Warning System (AEW), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)), and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Rest of the World). The report offers the market size and forecasts for all the above segments by value (USD billion).

Market Snapshot

Airborne ISR Market_overview
Study Period: 2018 - 2026
Base Year: 2020
Fastest Growing Market: Asia Pacific
Largest Market: North America
CAGR: 7.4 %

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Market Overview

The Airborne ISR Market was valued at USD 5.7 billion in 2020 and is projected to register a CAGR of 7.4% during the forecast period, to reach USD 9.44 billion by 2026.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the related lockdowns have resulted in a sudden dent in the GDPs of several countries. Also, the pandemic demanded huge and impulsive spending towards the healthcare systems of the countries, leading to a scarcity of economic resources. Although the global military spending increased in 2020, this factor is expected to force the countries to take a conservative approach towards their future military budgets, thereby hampering the airborne ISR market during the forecast period. The pandemic has resulted in severe disruptions in the supply chains of major ISR programs and has resulted in a reduction in production output. Also, delays in several developments projects in the airborne ISR industry are also observed. These factors have negatively impacted the players in the related market.

The airborne ISR market is expected to grow, as the usage of ISR is increasing and more countries are adopting the ISR technology for securing their borders. Rapid technological developments are breeding disruptive technologies in the defense industry. The increasing use of small unmanned systems for surveillance is further expected to generate demand for electronic components used in ISR missions. Advanced data integration with a multi-level comparative analysis to provide data accuracy and management may provide new market opportunities for the airborne ISR market.

Scope of the Report

Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) is an integrated intelligence and operations function that can be defined as a coordinated acquisition, processing, and provision of accurate, relevant, and timely information and intelligence to support the defense force's decision-making process. ISR systems integrated onboard airborne platforms, such as aircraft, UAVs, HAPS, and aerostat systems, are covered under the purview of the report. The report also offers the market sizes and forecasts for the airborne ISR market across the major regions in the world. For each segment, the market size and forecasts are done based on value (USD billion).

Maritime Patrol
Airborne Ground Surveillance (AGS)
Airborne Early Warnings (AEW)
Signals Intelligence (SIGNIT)
North America
United States
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe
South Korea
Rest of Asia-Pacific
Rest of World

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Key Market Trends

Unmanned Segment to Experience Highest Growth During the Forecat Period

UAVs have emerged as veritable tools for ISR missions and are, hence, under high demand globally as they provide low-cost alternatives to the nations planning to procure aerial assets for ISR and other missions. The emergence of new technologies and platforms has transformed the warfare strategies of nations such as the US, Russia, and China. UAVs are being used extensively in current warfare scenarios due to their visual superiority and capability of performing pre-emptive strikes and surveillance on specific locations. With the nations trending toward asymmetric warfare, it is expected that UAVs would be deployed in large numbers to collect crucial information that can act as a key decision-making tool. Hence, the nations and prime defense contractors are significantly increasing R&D investments to enhance their airborne ISR capabilities. For instance, in February 2019, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions received a USD 14 million contract to develop a new tactical UAV, Aethon, that is envisioned to be capable of effectively conducting ISR missions. Thus, the increasing adoption of electronic warfare is expected to drive the demand for superior ISR equipment aboard UAVs, in turn, fueling the growth of the unmanned segment of the airborne ISR market.

Airborne ISR Market_type

North America to Continue its Dominance in the Market

North America held the largest market share by geography in 2020. The US is one of the leading investors toward the modernization of its defense capabilities. The US Government and US DoD are planning to begin divesting few aerial platforms to provide resources to fund emerging ISR capabilities that can penetrate and collect data in the highly contested environment. The Air Force conducts ISR missions to analyze, inform, and provide joint force commanders with the knowledge needed to achieve decision advantage. The ISR portfolio is USD 8.8 billion in FY 2022. In April 2021, the U.S. Army’s Requirements Oversight Council approved the requirements for its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft in the form of an Abbreviated Capabilities Development Document (A-CDD) that validates the designs developed by two companies competing to build the aircraft. Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky and Bell are in a head-to-head competition to build prototypes and fly them beginning in November 2022. The Army is also in the process of bringing online a second technology demonstrator called ARES or Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System after awarding a contract to L3Harris Technologies in November 2020. ARES is based on a Bombardier Global Express 6500 jet that will have a different signals intelligence package on it than Artemis. There has been significant interest in multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft in the United States during recent years, which has led to the United States placing more orders for maritime patrol aircraft in order to increase its maritime surveillance capabilities. Such developments are expected to drive the market tgrowth in the region during the forecast period. 

Airborne ISR Market_geography

Competitive Landscape

The airborne ISR market is highly fragmented, with multiple players developing ISR platforms and subsystems for various global armed forces. Northrop Grumman Corporation, The Boeing Company, Elbit Systems Ltd, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation are some of the prominent players in the market. However, several local players collaborate with the market incumbent firms on regional projects to design and integrate smaller subsystems that effectively serve the specific requirements of the regional end-user defense forces. Vendors are competing based on their in-house manufacturing capabilities, global footprint network, product offerings, R&D investments, and a strong client base. Vendors must provide state-of-the-art systems to airborne ISR integrators to survive and succeed in the intensely competitive market environment. A majority of the defense OEMs integrate thrid party EO/IR equipment onboard their airborne ISR platforms, hence they try to minimize R&D costs of the cross-integration of such systems onboard different platforms.

Recent Developments

In March 2021, the US Navy ordered an additional MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle. The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. a USD 98.9 million contract modification to a previously awarded, fixed-priced incentive contract for one additional low-rate initial production Lot Five MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.

In November 2020, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced that the approval for the acquisition of three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The three Advanced Hawkeye are set to be delivered by 2028 and they will replace the existing E-2C Hawkeye of the French Navy.

In October 2020, the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) received the fourth and final Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) it ordered from the United States in 2014. The RQ-4B Block 30 is capable of multi-intelligence (multi-INT) collecting with SAR and EO/IR sensors, along with the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP), a wide-spectrum SIGINT sensor.

Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Market Drivers

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

    4. 4.4 Porter's Five Forces Analysis

      1. 4.4.1 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      2. 4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      3. 4.4.3 Threat of New Entrants

      4. 4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry

  5. 5. MARKET SEGMENTATION (Market Size by Value - USD billion)

    1. 5.1 Type

      1. 5.1.1 Manned

      2. 5.1.2 Unmanned

    2. 5.2 Application

      1. 5.2.1 Maritime Patrol

      2. 5.2.2 Airborne Ground Surveillance (AGS)

      3. 5.2.3 Airborne Early Warnings (AEW)

      4. 5.2.4 Signals Intelligence (SIGNIT)

    3. 5.3 Geography

      1. 5.3.1 North America

        1. United States

        2. Canada

      2. 5.3.2 Europe

        1. United Kingdom

        2. France

        3. Germany

        4. Russia

        5. Rest of Europe

      3. 5.3.3 Asia-Pacific

        1. China

        2. India

        3. Japan

        4. South Korea

        5. Rest of Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.3.4 Rest of World


    1. 6.1 Vendor Market Share

    2. 6.2 Company Profiles

      1. 6.2.1 Lockheed Martin Corporation

      2. 6.2.2 L3Harris Technologies, Inc.

      3. 6.2.3 BAE Systems plc

      4. 6.2.4 Raytheon Technologies Corporation

      5. 6.2.5 Northrop Grumman Corporation

      6. 6.2.6 The Boeing Company

      7. 6.2.7 Saab AB

      8. 6.2.8 Airbus SE

      9. 6.2.9 General Dynamics Corporation

      10. 6.2.10 Elbit Systems Ltd


**Subject to Availability

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Airborne ISR Market market is studied from 2018 - 2026.

The Airborne ISR Market is growing at a CAGR of 7.4% over the next 5 years.

The Airborne ISR Market is valued at 5 Billion USD in 2018.

The Airborne ISR Market is valued at 9 Billion USD in 2026.

Asia Pacific is growing at the highest CAGR over 2021- 2026.

North America holds highest share in 2020.

Elbit Systems Ltd, Northrop Grumman Corporation, The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Technologies Corporation are the major companies operating in Airborne ISR Market.

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