Directed Energy Weapons Market: Industry Outlook, Growth Prospects and Key Opportunities

The global directed energy weapons market is moderately fragmented, with the top three players having held nearly 59% of the market value in 2013. All key players hold close to similar shares of the value for directed energy weapons worldwide. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Missile Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are the leading providers of directed energy weapons across the world. According to a new report by Transparency Market Research, land-based directed energy weapons are expected to be the most popular deployment type till 2020.

The threat of new entrants is expected to remain low due to the extremely high initial investments and capital required to set up a directed energy weapons manufacturing venture. Additionally, as this market already stands, there is a considerable shortfall of skilled professionals that can help build directed energy weapons according to the modern military standards.

The revenue generation in the global market for directed energy weapons is expected to exhibit a high CAGR of 20.8% within a forecast period from 2014 to 2020. This revenue is expected to reach US$5.21 bn by the end of 2020.

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North America Demand for Directed Energy Weapons to Remain High

North America is expected to continue being the leading region of operations and sales of directed energy weapons in the world. By the end of 2020, the global directed energy weapons market is expected to generate US$2.76 bn. For the period from 2014 to 2020, Asia Pacific is considered to be a high-potential region for directed energy weapons.

High energy lasers are expected to remain the most popular directed energy weapons technology in use. By the end of 2020, this segment is expected to earn a revenue of US$2.998 bn. Land based directed energy weapons have consistently been the more popular form of directed energy weapons deployment. By the end of 2020, this segment is expected to be valued at nearly US$2.27 bn.

There is a greater demand for lethal directed energy weapons over non-lethal ones, for the purpose of defense and modern warfare. Due to this, the revenue generated by lethal directed energy weapons is expected to lead the market till 2020, at which point it is expected to be valued at US$2.97 bn.

Lower Cost Per Shot Can Prove Instrumental in Promoting DEWs

“The leading cause for the majority of clients to prefer the use of directed energy weapons is the enormous savings that they can help project for the client over the years,” states a TMR analyst. “Take for example a missile defense system. While conventional systems fire live ammunition at a missile, directed energy weapons such as high powered laser beams can be used to overheat the missile. This not only reduces the number of shots it takes to eliminate the threat, but also reduces the time taken to do so. At the same time, the total cost per shot itself is much lower than conventional weapons,” he adds.

There is therefore a substantial difference in ammunition costs between conventional weapons and directed energy weapons, not to mention the savings made in metals and other materials used in ammunition.

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Defense Budget Cuts Could Hamper Demand for DEWs

The defense industry being the key consumer of directed energy weapons or any weapons in general, any fluctuations in their budget allocation will directly affect their weapon consumption rate. Therefore, the current major cuts in defense budgets across the world are acting as the primary challenge to the demand for directed energy weapons.

The U.S. holds the largest expenditure rates on defense activities, and is also currently one of the leading nations with defense budget cuts. There is of course the increase in weapons consumption by Asia Pacific defense bodies. They are, however, less aware of modern weapons and therefore it will take time for directed energy weapons manufacturers to successfully penetrate these countries.

“Military modernization programs remain the best bet for any directed energy weapons manufacturer,” states the TMR analyst, adding, “As defense as well as law enforcement bodies across the world are getting heavily modernized, they include the scope of using directed energy weapons, both lethal and non-lethal.”