The military satellite market is far from stagnant and according to analysts will continue to grow at an expected compound annual growth rate of 5.6%. Satellites play an important role for militaries providing intelligence gathering, communication, and navigation services. They are essential in delivering real-time data of troop movements and weaponry, tracking enemy incursion, and transferring high-bandwidth communication. Secure and efficient communications are a priority for militaries and C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) systems are being strengthened to provide better global coverage.

Satellites are not cheap and currently only six nations have the funding to design, develop, and place satellites into orbit with even fewer able to place multiple satellites in a single flight. Leaders in the military satellite market are the U.S, China, U.K, Russia, India, Germany, and France. In Europe and through the European Space Agency (ESA), 22 European nation members coordinate resources to undertake space programmes they would not have been able to accomplish alone. Countries like Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa are mindful of space technology and will undoubtedly keep an eye on the military satellite market.

India is making great strides in the satellite market and expanding its military use of space. Under the Indian Space Research Organisation and Antrix, a number of successful and low cost launches have been completed. In 2016, India launched 20 satellites into orbit in a single mission including satellites belonging to the U.S, Canada, Germany, and Indonesia certainly appealing to those looking at launching military satellites. India made history this month when it launched 104 satellites into space in a single flight, establishing itself as a key player in a growing market.

New developments will always affect the satellite market and a game changer will be the launch of the OneWeb project, which includes investors such as Airbus Defence & Space, Virgin Group, and Qualcomm. OneWeb aims to inject 648 satellites into orbit to provide instantly deployable connectivity or long-term access solutions. In early 2018, they will launch an initial 10 production satellites followed in six months by their full launch campaign, providing low latency broadband access as early as 2019. OneWeb will address the most demanding global connectivity challenges and sudden infrastructure crises.

March 2017 will see the launch of the WGS-9 (Wideband Global SATCOM), which will provide enhanced communications capabilities to both U.S. forces and international partners. It is the only military satellite communications system that can support simultaneous X-band and Ka-band communications with crossbanding, giving a much-needed communications edge to operators.

The military satellite market is set to see sustained growth in established markets and developing countries with ongoing modernisation programmes. An example of modernization programmes is Japan who launched its first communications satellite in January 2017 to upgrade its defence communications network. The satellite is one of three defence ministry operated communications satellites to be used by Japanese troops, which currently rely on civilian satellites. Technological developments will continue to influence the market, as will the needs of military commanders on the ground and in the air.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA

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