Special Mission Aircraft Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)

The Special Mission Aircraft Market is Segmented by Application (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Maritime Patrol Aircraft, and Other Applications) and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Middle-East and Africa). The report offers the market size and forecasts in value (USD billion) for all the above segments.

Market Snapshot

special mission aircraft market size
Study Period: 2018-2027
Base Year: 2021
Fastest Growing Market: Asia Pacific
Largest Market: North America
CAGR: 4.6 %
special mission aircraft market major players

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Market Overview

The special mission aircraft market was valued at about USD 10.75 billion in 2020, and it is projected to reach approximately USD 16.56 billion in 2030, with a CAGR of about 4.6% during the forecast period (2021-2030).

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the temporary ceasing of aircraft manufacturing and plans of aircraft OEMs to reduce aircraft production rates led to an overall decrease in special mission aircraft deliveries in 2020. However, according to Bombardier, the demand for medevac configured special mission aircraft increased in 2020.

The escalating geopolitical tensions and cross-border issues across the world are driving the rapid increase in military spending by major and emerging economies. Special mission aircraft act as low-cost multi-role substitutes that support a wide range of missions like maritime patrol, electronic warfare, search and rescue, and medevac, among others. This is expected to accelerate the demand for special mission aircraft during the forecast period.

Scope of the Report

Special mission aircraft are aircraft equipped with a wide range of sensors and military equipment to support a wide range of non-combat missions such as search and rescue, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare, etc. The market is segmented based on applications in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), search and rescue (SAR), and other applications. The other applications segment includes aircraft used for electronic warfare, air ambulance, and VIP transportation. The report also covers the market sizes and forecasts for the market in major countries across different regions. The market sizing and forecasts have been provided in value (USD billion). The market includes procurement, upgrade, and maintenance of special mission aircraft. The scope does not include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and rotorcraft used for ISR, search and rescue, and other non-combat missions of armed forces.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
Maritime Patrol Aircraft
Other Applications
North America
United States
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe
Rest of Asia-Pacific
Latin America
Rest of Latin America
Middle-East and Africa
United Arab Emirates
Rest of Middle-East and Africa

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Key Market Trends

The Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Segment Accounted for the Highest Share in 2020

The intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) segment currently dominates the market, and it is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period. The segment includes special mission aircraft used for ISR missions and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) applications. The demand growth of the segment is majorly due to the increased demand for the acquisition of surveillance aircraft due to tensions at land and sea borders for various countries as well as other factors like drug trafficking and high-seas piracy. For instance, the United Arab Emirates has been expanding its fleet of GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft for reconnaissance missions. The country initially placed an order for two aircraft to Saab in 2015, followed by an order for one in 2017 and a follow-on order for two more aircraft in December 2020. The country received the first two aircraft in 2020, and the third one was delivered in February 2021. Such fleet modernization plans of the countries are anticipated to propel the growth of the segment during the forecast period.

special mission aircraft market trends

The Asia-Pacific Region is Expected to Witness the Highest Growth During the Forecast Period

The Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow rapidly during the forecast period due to the border tensions and geopolitical issues in the region. With the increasing military spending, countries such as China, India, and Japan are undertaking aircraft fleet modernization programs to enhance their aerial capabilities (including combat readiness and situational awareness). For instance, in June 2019, India’s Ministry of Defense approved the procurement of 10 more Boeing P-8I Neptune advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft for the Indian Navy. The contract is estimated to be worth about USD 3 billion. These aircraft will be directly bought from Boeing, while the P-8I weaponry, radar, and related equipment will be procured via the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. It is anticipated that these new aircraft deliveries may begin by the end of 2023. In addition to this, India also announced its plans to locally manufacture special mission aircraft. In this regard, in December 2020, the country announced its plan to manufacture and deploy six new airborne early warning and control aircraft developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on aircraft from Air India to further enhance the surveillance capabilities of the Indian Air Force. Such planned procurements during the forecast period are expected to drive the growth of the market.

special mission aircraft market growth

Competitive Landscape

The special mission aircraft market is slightly fragmented due to the presence of aircraft OEMs and companies that convert commercial or general aviation aircraft into special mission aircraft. Some of the prominent players in the market for special mission aircraft are The Boeing Company, Textron Inc., Dassault Aviation SA, General Dynamics Corporation, and Saab AB. The companies are expanding their sales and footprint in various regions through new partnerships with the governments and armed forces. For instance, the US government was awarded a USD 1.6 billion production contract to Boeing in April 2021 for the delivery of 11 P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Out of the 11 aircraft, nine aircraft are planned to be delivered to the US Navy, and two aircraft will be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). With the order, the total number of P-8A aircraft on order for the US Navy increase to 128 and the RAAF to 14. The companies are also investing in developing new special mission aircraft based on the requirements of the armed forces. In this regard, Textron Aviation Inc. signed a deal with the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) for configuring the Cessna Citation Longitude to conduct flight validation and flight inspection operations. This aircraft is anticipated to be delivered by 2021. Such contracts from various government and armed forces will help the companies increase their footprint in the market.

Major Players

  1. Textron Inc.

  2. General Dynamics Corporation

  3. The Boeing Company

  4. Dassault Aviation SA

  5. Saab AB

Textron Inc. General Dynamics Corporation The Boeing Company Dassault Aviation SA Saab AB

Recent Developments

In December 2020, the US State Department approved a potential Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Italy of two special-mission versions of the Gulfstream G550 business jet configured to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The approval was part of the Italian Ministry of Defence's multi-year aircraft acquisition plan (2020-2022) announced in October 2020.

In July 2020, Textron Aviation received a contract from Sundt Air for two Beechcraft King Air 350C turboprop aircraft to support air ambulance and medevac missions throughout Greece. The new aircraft will be owned by the Greece Ministry of Health and will be operated by the Hellenic Air Force for disaster relief, medical rescue, inter-hospital transfer, and repatriation to mainland healthcare services.

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 Application

      1. 5.1.1 Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)

      2. 5.1.2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft

      3. 5.1.3 Other Applications

    2. 5.2 Geography

      1. 5.2.1 North America

        1. United States

        2. Canada

      2. 5.2.2 Europe

        1. United Kingdom

        2. France

        3. Germany

        4. Russia

        5. Rest of Europe

      3. 5.2.3 Asia-Pacific

        1. China

        2. India

        3. Japan

        4. Australia

        5. Rest of Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.2.4 Latin America

        1. Brazil

        2. Rest of Latin America

      5. 5.2.5 Middle-East and Africa

        1. United Arab Emirates

        2. Turkey

        3. Rest of Middle-East and Africa


    1. 6.1 Company Profiles

      1. 6.1.1 Raytheon Technologies Corporation

      2. 6.1.2 Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd

      3. 6.1.3 Elbit Systems Ltd

      4. 6.1.4 The Boeing Company

      5. 6.1.5 Dassault Aviation SA

      6. 6.1.6 Northrop Grumman Corporation

      7. 6.1.7 Lockheed Martin Corporation

      8. 6.1.8 Textron Inc.

      9. 6.1.9 General Dynamics Corporation

      10. 6.1.10 Airbus SE

      11. 6.1.11 Bombardier Inc.

      12. 6.1.12 Pilatus Aircraft Ltd

      13. 6.1.13 Leonardo SpA

      14. 6.1.14 Saab AB


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Frequently Asked Questions

The Special Mission Aircraft Market market is studied from 2018 - 2027.

The Special Mission Aircraft Market is growing at a CAGR of 4.6% over the next 5 years.

The Special Mission Aircraft Market is valued at 10 Billion USD in 2018.

The Special Mission Aircraft Market is valued at 16 Billion USD in 2027.

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

North America holds highest share in 2021.

Textron Inc., General Dynamics Corporation , The Boeing Company, Dassault Aviation SA, Saab AB are the major companies operating in Special Mission Aircraft Market.

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