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RF Market Opportunities from Defense Sector Still Growing

by Stephen Entwistle | Jul 16, 2013

As has been highlighted in previous posts, military expenditure faces challenges with declining budgets impacting the introduction of new platforms. However, technology will be the differentiator for future global conflict scenarios, and budgetary constraints will not detract from the need to improve system capabilities through technology upgrades. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service report, “Defense Market Opportunities for RF Technologies,” forecasts the opportunity for RF technologies remains strong despite budgetary challenges as the focus shifts towards enhancing capabilities in the areas of radar, satellite communications and electronic warfare.

The challenges facing North America, and the US in particular are well documented, and European spending is also forecast to decline over the next ten years, though this will not detract from an emphasis on maintaining and enhancing the capabilities of existing platforms and systems. From a defense industry perspective, opportunities for growth will come from the Asia-Pac, CALA and MEA markets as these regions increase defense spending. The largest growth is expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region, with growth expected in Chinese military expenditure. This will be supplemented by defense expenditure increases in other countries in the region, e.g. India, Japan, South Korea etc., driven by both reactionary spending (to China)  as well as a desire to maintain and develop future capabilities.

Future capabilities for radar, satellite communications and electronic warfare will be underpinned by operation across wider bandwidths and higher frequencies. The need for bandwidth, for example, shows no sign of abating with net-centric warfare driving demand and this drive a move towards higher frequencies across all applications. The trend is especially notable in the communications sector with Ka-band expected to form an increasingly staple part of the military satellite communications portfolio over the coming years.  Wide bandwidth capabilities can be epitomized by RF-based EW systems, where future trends point towards what may be described as a “no channel” concept in which the systems are tasked with operation across a complete frequency range with equal emphasis on power and sensitivity.

While TWTs still offer the best solution for high power, high frequency operation and offer significantly higher overall whole system (i.e. wall plug to RF) efficiencies, there will be a steady shift away from vacuum tube technology over the next five years. This will be driven by both system architectural evolution, e.g. the move towards AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars, as well as solid-state RF technologies such as GaN and SiC demonstrating the capabilities to meet future system requirements for high frequency, wide bandwidth and high power operation. The overall market for high power RF will grow at a CAGR of 9% through 2017.

The “Defense Market Opportunities for RF Technologies” reports discusses how the opposing forces of budgetary pressure versus upgrading system capabilities will impact the opportunities for RF technologies looking at a range of topics including:

·         Challenges facing military expenditure.

·         The evolution of radar systems towards AESA.

·         Electronic warfare system design and future outlook.

·         Satellite communications form factor trends.

See the ADS service for more details of Strategy Analytics defense research.

Clients of the ADS service can access the full report, Defense Market Opportunities for RF Technologies

Don’t miss our regular column in Microwave Journal’s Military Microwaves.

See Defence iQ for more analysis on the defense industry, related news and events.

Asif

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