The Global Synthetic Aperture Radar Market was valued at USD 3320.2 million in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 6474.0 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 11.6%, during the period of 2021-2026. The pandemic has led to the increased demand for satellite imagery, including studying the economic impact of the virus and conducting remote monitoring of facilities and infrastructure. The demand grew from the oil and gas industry; for instance, Ursa Space Systems, which offers satellite data and analytics, observed the impact of COVID-19 on global oil inventories, as the company provides weekly reports on 11,000 oil storage tanks, which are observed with SAR satellites.
- In the past, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems were used for studying the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the Earth’s surface; in recent times, the development of multi-channel SAR systems enabled the development of more sophisticated techniques for surveillance activities. The SAR instrument provides high-resolution data for wide-area surveillance under all weather conditions. These systems are increasingly being used to quickly view oceanic surfaces for vessels, oil spills, laver facilities, surveillance, space, mining, and oil field exploration, among others. - SAR instruments are active sensors as they can emit their energy toward the Earth and measure how that energy is scattered after coming in contact with the Earth’s surface. SAR instruments use radar technology for sensing energy in the microwave and radio portions of the spectrum. As these instruments do not depend on the Sun’s energy to collect surface data, and SAR satellites can operate well both day and night. - SAR bands are categorized based on their wavelengths and frequency, which helps to categorize the penetration strength and potential applications of a satellite. - Despite various advantages offered by the SAR systems, it is a significantly underused technology compared to traditional optical imagery; in order to overcome this, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the licensing of Private Remote Sensing Space Systems, which revised the regulations for licensing the operation of private remote sensing space systems, under the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992; aiming at making US private actors competitive with their foreign counterparts.
Key Market Trends Military and Defense Sector to Account for a Significant Demand
- In military applications, a synthetic aperture radar is used to detect surface features, like building complexes, missile sites, and topographical features of the surrounding terrain. Thus, it is used for battlefield surveillance, weapon guidance, and mission planning of future operations. - The increase in military and defense spending enables the defense sector to develop missiles with improved precision targeting. Compared to an airborne SAR, missile-borne SAR has various essential characteristics, such as high flight speed with straight movement and a large squint angle, crucial in measuring precision in real-time. - With applications, such as weapons fire-control (missiles or guns) and accuracy control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, air and spaceborne SAR systems are expected to witness higher adoption than ground-based systems. - Recently, the US Air Force tested using synthetic aperture radar for bomb damage assessment at NellisAFB in Nevada. During this test, two F-15Es dropped live Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). At the same time, other weapons systems, including F-15Es, F-35s, F-16s, FA-18s, RQ-4, MQ-9, U-2, and joint partners used SAR Mapping technology to assess if the bombs hit and destroyed the intended targets. - Moreover, in the defense sector, wide-area surveillance has diverse applications, such as coast guard vessels, monitoring remote areas for human movement, establishment of perimeter security, and the offshore missile platforms. Technological developments of the same are leading to increasing adoption of unmanned airborne surveillance (UAS) systems or drones.
North America to Occupy the Largest Market Share
- North America is home to some of the major players in the market, such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Raytheon Company. The presence of such significant players drives the technological investment for synthetic aperture radar (SAR), leading to the market’s growth. - The United States has one of the most significant defense budgets globally and has been proactively investing in R&D activities. The defense budget is increasing each year rapidly. For the fiscal year (FY) 2022, the defense department proposed USD 715 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of about USD 10 billion from what was allocated to the Pentagon in FY 2021. The budget proposal for Pentagon includes the largest ever investment for research, development, and engineering at USD 112 billion. - The increasing budgets reflect upon the growing research on the application of synthetic aperture radars in defense. In May 2021, the United States Air Force Research Laboratory officials at Ohio base announced a USD 5.2 million contracts to BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment and a USD 4.1 million contracts to the Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory for moving target recognition project (MTR). - MTR revolves around developing algorithms that recognize slow-moving military vehicle targets with SAR signatures that are superimposed on clutter. The contract awarded by the air force was on behalf of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). - The adoption of SAR has been widely seen in the satellites for government and commercial applications. The technology provides benefits, such as achieving precise imaging in darkness and cloud applications, gathering elevation, and moisture levels. Several companies in the region have made strides toward providing high-quality SAR imaging at lower costs by leveraging small satellite developments. In doing so, they are paving the way for the widespread adoption of SAR.
Competitive Landscape The synthetic aperture radar market is moderately fragmented and consists of several international and regional vendors. Moreover, due to relatively moderate product differentiation, the companies are heavily investing in developing strategic decisions, in order to maintain a distinct competitive advantage, through collaborations and acquisitions. Some of the key developments in the market are: - September 2020 - IMSAR and Primoco UAV successfully performed the integration and preliminary flight testing of the NSP-7 Synthetic Aperture Radar on the Primoco One 150 UAV. The live flight tests in the Czech Republic verified the aircraft performance and confirmed flight endurance of up to 10 hours. With the SAR radar installed on the portside of the fuselage, the payload bay remains unobstructed and it also allows simultaneous installation and operation of the EO/IR surveillance system.
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