World's Militaries 'Ramping Up Use Of Unmanned Vehicles'

The world's militaries are becoming increasingly reliant on unmanned vehicles, according to a new report.It says over 63,000 new Unmanned...

The world's militaries are becoming increasingly reliant on unmanned vehicles, according to a new report.

It says over 63,000 new Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and over 30,000 new Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) will be operational over next 10 years, with them and their naval equivalents used to carry out dull, dirty and dangerous missions.

IHS Jane's Unmanned Vehicles Report

Derrick Maple, principal analyst for unmanned systems at IHS Jane's, part of the IHS Markit company, said:

"Unmanned military ground, sea and air vehicle technology is evolving rapidly and we are seeing strong growth across all three sectors over the next five to 10 years."

UAV sales will exceed $82 billion (£67bn) globally over the next 10 years, with 63,000 sold, according to the new report. Maple said:

"Growing global tension and the foreseen increasing role of UAVs in operations will keep demand high."

"We are seeing increased focus on cost-effective and flexible systems, as well as smaller and more efficient sensors and communication systems.

"Additionally, we are seeing increases in mission endurance times. The Zephyr 8/S is a pseudo-satellite UAV and can operate autonomously for months due to electric power from its battery and solar panels."

Between 2016 and 2025, the reports forecasts that 30,000 unmanned ground vehicles could replace old inventory.

It projects a growth from around $200 million (£164m) in sales in 2016, to approximately $800m (£657m) by 2025, with approximately $4.9bn (£4bn) spent on unmanned ground vehicles globally in that period. Maple said:

"UGVs demonstrated their capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and were important in combating the threat of IEDs. But, many UGVs were delivered a decade or more ago and have been superseded by new technology, such as enhanced sensors and systems. Many will need updating within the next five to 10 years."

The sales of unmanned sea vehicles, meanwhile, which have been used for decades for mine hunting and disposal, but are still at a relatively early stage of development, are also expected to grow.

The report predicts USV sales will grow from just over $400m (£329m) in 2016 to over $900m (£740m) by 2025, with the amount spent in that period expected to hit $6.5bn (£5.3bn). Maple said:

"We are seeing USVs used in a variety of ways including anti-submarine warfare, counter terrorism, anti-smuggling, harbour surveillance and an increasing use in littoral waters."

There will also be much higher system autonomy in future, according to the report.

More: UN Urged to Ban "Killer Robots"