DN - Defence Notes

Asia-Pacific dominates MPA market

8th November 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by ​Matt Smith in London

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The global market for procurement of new maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) is forecast to be worth $28 billion between 2019 and 2029 and is dominated by countries in Asia-Pacific, according to new research by Defence Insight.

It is perhaps unsurprising that countries in Asia-Pacific have the strongest demand for maritime patrol aircraft, given the extensive coastlines and naval requirements of militaries in the region. According to the Military Aircraft Market Report and Forecast, nearly two-thirds of MPA procurement globally will be concentrated in Asia-Pacific, worth more than $17 billion.

The largest as-yet unawarded programme in the forecast is Japan’s potential procurement of up to 60 Kawaski P-1 MPAs. Under this programme, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) could replace the remainder of its existing fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft with further examples of the P-1, with a cost that could exceed $7 billion.

While there are a number of aircraft that provide MPA capabilities globally, including the aforementioned Kawasaki P-1s and the Airbus C295M (selected by Canada), the market leader is Boeing’s P-8A, of which more than 100 have been ordered by the US and export partners. The P-8A is a very sophisticated and highly capable aircraft that comes with a commensurate price tag. According to the US Navy, each aircraft procured in 2019 had a flyaway cost of $171 million.

However, the cost of procuring and operating a dedicated MPA capability of this type means that it is simply not cost effective for many lower-level maritime patrol activities such as littoral patrol or search and rescue. As a result, the dedicated MPA faces competition from other kinds of provision, from modified commercial aircraft based on business jet airframes to unmanned systems, helicopters, satellites and coastal sensors.

Navalised UAS in particular are expected to see a surge in usage over the next 10 years with capabilities that range from very expensive high-end systems such as the MQ-4 Triton to smaller, navalised versions of tactical UAVs for littoral or ship-based missions.

These trends are impacting the sector. There is strong growth in the short term (from major procurements in the US, UK, New Zealand, Norway and Canada), and in the medium term there are orders either confirmed or expected for additional P-8As from India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Towards the end of the 2020s, however, there are fewer large programmes in evidence, and global spending is expected to decline from a peak of $4.5 billion in 2022 to just $0.9 billion in 2029.

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