Counter-drone market propelled by Saudi Aramco attack

London, UK

Analysts at IHS Market - Techology - now a part of Informa Tech, say that recent attacks on critical facilities, including the Sept. 14 assault on the world’s largest oil-processing plant in Saudi Arabia, will help drive a more-than $700 million increase in global demand during the coming years for perimeter security equipment such as counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS).

The global market for perimeter security equipment—a category encompassing C-UAS solutions as well as other products like uncooled thermal cameras and perimeter security sensors—will rise to more than $2 billion by 2023, up from $1.3 billion in 2018, according to the researchers..

“Organisations like airports, sports stadia and critical infrastructure facilities are all concerned about detecting potential intrusions beyond their perimeters,” said Oliver Philippou, research manager, security technologies, at IHS Markit | Technology. “However, amid recent events, these concerns have now expanded into protecting the local airspace from drone attacks. Perimeter security systems that take a layered approach, including thermal, sensors, ground-based radar, and drone detection technology, are a vital tool for detecting and preventing intruders.”

Counter-UAS market set for liftoff

Legislation and regulations are currently hindering the growth of the C-UAS market. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has not established a basic operating procedure for drone detection and interdiction. However, IHS Markit | Technology expects clarity on the use of drone detection and mitigation systems at airports during the forecast period, paving the way for the tremendous growth in this market.

The malicious use of drones has led to the development of a range of C-UAS detection technologies such as radar, electro-optical detection systems, infrared sensors and acoustic detection.

The global C-UAS market is set to rise to $542.2 million in 2023, up from $62.4 million in 2019.

The layered look

Layered perimeter security solutions are particularly useful for countering drone threats, providing multiple means of detecting a potentially hostile flying object. These threats have been at the forefront of security professionals’ minds recently, given the Saudi attack and other incidents such as the events at Dubai Airport in the UAE and at Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom in 2018.

“The recent drone events at the Gatwick and Dubai airports were minor, causing delays lasting a few days at those specific facilities, with no human casualties and no lasting implications for the airports,” Philippou said. “However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the security industry is an event-driven market—and incidents like this can have an enormous impact on market spending and technology trends.”

Drone attacks are relatively cheap and easy to initiate but can inflict major damage. For example, this month’s suspected drone attack at the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities reportedly reduced crude oil production by 5.7 million barrels per day. This totaled about half the kingdom's output, resulting in an expected increase of global oil prices of as much as 15 percent.

These attacks could help force through legislation mandating basic operating procedures for drone detection and interdiction.

Perimeter security sensor market dominated by ground-based radar

Ground-based radar is expected to be a significant growth driver during the forecast period. This expansion is largely driven by growing demand for ground-based radar units in new vertical markets such as ports and prisons, with increased usage by airports and governments. Global unit shipments are estimated to more than double by the end of 2023. At the same time, prices are projected to decline as the technology becomes less expensive giving more end-users access to them.

Mobilising for the drone war

Amid the rising drone threat, defence, security and video-surveillance companies have struck partnerships with counter-UAS companies, including Dedrone, Droneshield and Black Sage Technologies. IHS Markit | Technology expects more of these partnerships to occur during the forecast period.

“An effective perimeter security system that ignores the potential threat of nefarious drones is missing more than half of the equation,” Philippou said. “Drones are here to stay and will only expand their role in our daily lives as they start delivering our packages or become our mode of transportation. Knowing where they are will be essential for safely coexisting in the future.”


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