Components > Defense Blog

RF and Millimeter-wave Technologies Underpinning Smart Weapons Sector Growth

by Asif Anwar | Jun 21, 2016

Strategy Analytics forecasts the global Smart Weapons (SW) market will grow to over $41.8 billion in 2025, representing a CAGR of 3.7%. A renewed emphasis on advancing Smart Weapon capabilities to counter evolving threats such as A2/AD (anti-access Area Denial) envelopes, combined with on-going demand from asymmetric wars and continued force modernizations in emerging countries is driving spending across the full range of Smart Weapons. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service series of Smart Weapon (SW) forecasts, outline global defense expenditure trends segmented on a regional basis before breaking out the expected spend on Smart Weapons incorporating subsystems, hardware, support and related services across the land, air and naval domains.

  • The squeeze on military budgets particularly in the Western countries as well as technology advances are translating to adoption of fewer but more capable new Smart Weapon platforms across domains.
  • The total number of Smart Weapon shipments is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.5% through 2025 to reach 162,943 units.
  • The associated market for Smart Weapon subsystems such as navigation and guidance, target seekers, datalinks, fuzes etc. will grow from $9.3 billion in 2015 to $13.4 billion.

Strategy Analytics Smart Weapons Market Outlook outlines analysis looking at the total smart weapons sector in terms of overall expenditure, as well as detailing expected shipments and associated demand for the underpinning subsystems. The underlying numerical data is available in the Global SW Market and Technology Forecast: 2015 – 2025 data model. Further detailed numerical data for Smart Weapons across the respective domains is available in the following series of forecasts:

RF and millimeterwave technologies underpin a range of Smart Weapon subsystems enabling navigation and guidance, fuzing, target seekers and this will support a number of the key trends driving towards enhanced capability platforms over the next ten years. These include advances in datalinks, guidance and multi-mode target seeking systems enabling networked and automated missiles. With BLOS (Beyond line of sight) datalinks, MMW (Milimeterwave) radar target seeker, digital processors and advanced target recognition algorithms, missiles are increasingly able to communicate among themselves, change course with the position of a shifting target and reassign themselves to new targets.

Advances in missile survivability in the face of growing enemy EW capability directed against incoming missiles and their electronic systems are being achieved through counter measures such as anti-jam/spoof navigation and guidance as well as target seeking devices, decoy and home-on-jam systems, among others.

The Navigation and Guidance System (NGS) subsystem on smart weapons guides the projectile throughout its flight course to the target area. RF-based systems include the use of GPS, which provide precise and cost-effective NGS without the need for pre-recorded information (unlike Terrain Referenced Navigation (TRN) systems). However, the propensity for enemy interference/jamming, and limited performance in tunnels/restricted areas means that GPS-based guidance is often used in conjunction with other NGS systems.

However, it is radar-based systems that represent the largest use of RF/MMW-based technologies in the NGS subsystem. Most SAMs (surface to air missiles) and long range SSMs (surface to surface missiles including both ballistic and cruise missile including anti-ship missiles) use radar as the primary means of guidance; collectively radar-based SWs represent the second largest segment of the SW market. Radar guidance can be either Active or semi-active. In active radar guidance the missile contains a radar transceiver whereas in semi-active radar guidance the missile uses only a receiver to find and track the target. 

  • Semi-active radar guidance enables “fire and forget” capability as the missile works autonomously during the terminal phase.
  • Using an active radar transmitter as the target seeker means the launch platform does not need to guide the missile anymore and is free to conduct other maneuvers.

A Target Seeker (TS) subsystem, also sometimes known as a Terminal Seeker, is normally found in medium to long range missiles, and used in combination with the NGS, for better identification and striking of the target using Active Radar (MMW), Laser, IR/IIR (Infrared/Inverse Infrared) and Acoustic/magnetic seeker technologies. Radar-based target seeker subsystems account for almost 50 percent of the target seeker subsystem market for smart weapons.

Moving forwards, directed energy weapons (DEW) will fundamentally change how future battles are fought while also providing significant savings on expensive conventional munitions, particularly in the air and missile defence (AMD) role. There are simultaneous developments going on around electromagnetic pulsed weapons and high power microwave (HPM) payloads, as well as Laser weapons systems. Strategy Analytics predicts that these weapons will begin to be part of an advanced military’s arsenal over the next ten years. We however envisage that introduction of such disruptive weapons will require fundamental adaptations in organization, training, concepts of operation and doctrine across all domains of the armed forces, resulting in a slower initial uptake of the systems and maintaining the current demand for RF and millimeter-wave technologies across navigation and guidance and terminal seeker applications.

Finally, join me for a webinar on the outlook and trends for military radar and electronic warfare,

Global SW Spending Outlook
Previous Post: Electronic Warfare and Military Communications Riding the Millimeter-wave | Next Post: Infineon buys Wolfspeed - is the US DoD losing a strategic supplier of GaN RF technology?
Leave a comment