DN - Defence Notes

$700 billion to be spent on military fixed-wing aircraft over next decade

24th October 2019 - 12:15 GMT | by Shephard Analysis in London

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The fixed-wing military aircraft market will be worth nearly $700 billion over the next ten years, according to a soon to be released analysis by Defence Insight.

Fighter aircraft make up the largest segment, worth $452 billion. This is dominated by Lockheed Martin, who’s F-35 alone is forecast to account for around almost half of the total global spending on multi-role and naval fighters. 

This is followed by large transport aircraft and air-to-air tankers, worth $111 billion. Dedicated bombers make up the third largest category at over $40 billion. The trainer and light attack aircraft segment is expected to be worth nearly $35 billion with over 1,300 aircraft forecast to be required globally.

‘There are currently a large number of high-value and high-volume fighter procurement programmes underway and this is driving growth in the medium term,’ says Matt Smith, director of analysis.

‘The market as a whole is driven by US procurement of the F-35. But European air forces are also investing in 5th generation platforms and a number of countries in Asia-Pacific are looking at the aircraft China is deploying and feeling the need to upgrade their own capabilities.’

There have been a number of very large contract awards in the Middle East in recent years, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia leading the charge. These programmes are now in the delivery stage and once complete will require substantial levels of funding to sustain and upgrade, with less spending allocated to new platform procurement.

While the F-35 accounts for much of the fighter market, there are also a number of major opportunities yet to be awarded. The Defence Insight forecast indicates the proportion of that market that is yet to be awarded is set to increase hugely from 2024 onwards as current procurements finish and new programmes start.

There are significant programmes for 4th/5th generation capabilities in Canada, Finland, India and Switzerland, with potential projects in Germany, Hungary, Greece, Spain, the Philippines and the UAE among others, worth over $80 billion over the next decade.

There is also a question mark over what is going to happen in Turkey now that its participation in the F-35 programme has been suspended. With a requirement for 125 aircraft to replace F-16s that are close to reaching the end of their service lives, Turkey will need to evaluate how it can retain its fighter capability while it develops its own indigenous aircraft, the TF-X.

US platforms are off the table, so Moscow has been pushing the Su-57 as a replacement. Russian fighter aircraft have not had enormous amounts of success with exports in recent years, they account for just 6% of awarded contracts globally, so a potential agreement with Turkey would be very attractive.

Beyond 2029 there is also the prospect of major 6th generation aircraft programmes, with replacements for Europe’s Eurofighter and Rafale inventories and the US Penetrating Counter Air programme all expected to start to ramp up.

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