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Where is the Commercial Airport Radar Opportunity for Solid-State Electronics?

by Asif Anwar | May 26, 2017

Growing air traffic, upgrades and security challenges will drive the global airport commercial radar market to $1.5 billion, a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 5.4%, representing growth across traditional platforms as well as growth opportunities to address emerging threats. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service report, “Airport Commercial Radar Market and Technology Forecast: 2016-2026,” predicts the total number of airport radar shipments will reach 481 units in 2026.

A number of factors will drive the market for radars used in commercial factors, including new airport development projects and upgrades to existing facilities, driven by continued growth in air traffic. Other factors that will drive growth will include:

  • Ensuring perimeter security and intrusion detection to combat asymmetric threats;
  • Developing robust counter-drone strategies;
  • Dealing with natural phenomena such as wildlife, especially birds.

While the traditional primary and secondary radars will represent the largest market for commercial radars, PSID (Perimeter Security and Intrusion Detection) and CDBA (Counter Drone and Bird Strike Avoidance) radars are among the fastest growing segments driven by asymmetric threats and growing use of commercial drones. These radar platforms also represent the primary opportunity for solid-state technologies such as GaAs, GaN and Si LDMOS.

UK-based companies such as Blighter Surveillance Systems Kelvin Hughes, have replaced vacuum tube RF transmitters with GaAs and GaN respectively for radar systems designed for perimeter protection. Blighter is also using the same Ku-band FMCW (Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave) E-scan (electronically scanned) radar system as part of the AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System) counter drone system. The adoption of solid-state semiconductors RF transmitters in longer range, higher power ATC (Air Traffic Control) primary radars is still at an early stage but Hensoldt’s ASR-NG system is one example of a GaN-based system that is available on the market.

The proliferation of AESA (active electronically scanned array) architectures seen in the military sector has yet to become prevalent in the commercial airport radar market with most operators citing cost as a primary stumbling block. However, there is a nascent opportunity for solid-state semiconductor technologies to replace traditional vacuum tube based high power RF transmitters, and this will provide an opportunity for companies such as Qorvo, for example, to provide vacuum tube replacement solutions based on their GaN-based Spatium products.

Meet the Strategy Analytics team at EW Europe and IMS 2017 to discuss this research as well as our comprehensive coverage of defense and adjacent sector opportunities:

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