Northern Sky Research

A $24 Billion Opportunity for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Communications and Imaging

Thu 04, Jan 2018

New NSR Report sees Strong UAS Growth amidst Race for Satellite-Enabled Military Drones 

Cambridge, MA  – NSR’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Satcom and Imaging Markets, 4th Edition report, released today, projects a cumulative revenue opportunity of $19.7 billion for UAS satellite communications and $4.3 billion for commercial UAS imaging service during the 2016-2026 period owed to an accelerating Government and Military UAS market, with increased adoption rates for unmanned systems around the world. 

The demand for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and combat capability is on the rise, due to global conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. Consequently, the 2016-2017 period notes a significant UAS supply increase from the U.S., China and Middle Eastern countries. This growth highlights the opportunity in satcom terminals and capacity services for both satellite operators and equipment manufacturers. The demand for Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) airframes continues to outshine other satcom enabled airframes, and NSR projects more than 8,000 satcom in-service units by 2026, with MALE systems accounting for almost 75% of the market.

“The steady increase of  U.S. activity in Asia, as conflicts move towards the South China Sea and North Korea, along with a global rise in drone-based warfare to reduce soldier casualties, give rise to a proliferation in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) satcom market for drones,” stated Gagan Agrawal, NSR Analyst and report author.  “These conflicts, along with a need for peacekeeping, border patrols, and global humanitarian efforts have spawned a growing demand for high bandwidth video ISR.”

“For smaller sized UAS, imaging is the primary application in the commercial domain. This is fueled by needs of the energy sector, industrial inspection, and surveying,  where mapping and analytics services via UAS, as compared to manual work, offer companies a 2-3x cost savings potential,” added Agrawal. “As civilian regulations and VC-backed startups mature through 2018, businesses will look to solidify an enterprise-service oriented B2B model, paving the way for stability and wider recognition for this industry.”

About the Report

NSR’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Satcom and Imaging Markets, 4th Edition is the industry leading report analyzing UAS industry demand and revenue potential, delving into satcom terminal and capacity forecasts for military drones. It is the only report offering high granularity imaging services forecasts for the highly competitive commercial UAS market, giving readers the full spectrum of UAS industry market opportunities through detailed analysis of trends on demand, revenues, and growth. This 4th edition of the report examines the UAS industry’s environment, its competitive landscape, and updates on future markets such as delivery using UAS. For additional information on this report, including a full table of contents, list of exhibits and executive summary, please visit or call NSR at +1-617-674-7743.

About NSR

NSR is the leading global market research and consulting firm focused on the satellite and space sectors. NSR’s global team, unparalleled coverage and anticipation of trends with a higher degree of confidence and precision than the competition is the cornerstone of all NSR offerings. First to market coverage and a transparent, dependable approach sets NSR apart as the key provider of critical insight to the satellite and space industries. Contact us at to discuss how we can assist your business.

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