Over the next decade, combined sales of UAVs are expected to top $90 billion dollars, with annual sales rising from $8 billion in 2015 to between $12 and 14 billion in 2025.

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The military market will continue to lead the way, with an anticipated dollar market share of around 70%. The remaining market share is estimated at around 25% for the consumer market and 5% for the civil market.

Over the next several years, the consumer and civil sectors should approach a 20% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), while the military sector is expected to average 5% CAGR.

The Military Sector

Military UAVThe military market uses an array of sophisticated systems and sensors for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and weaponry applications, which spells good news for the connector industry. The need to interconnect these various systems has significantly increased the demand for electrification, and will continue to grow as they continue to evolve to offer new and improved capabilities.

More specialized systems means more connections. The product mix will vary depending upon the platform and its intended use, but there will be a general rise in high-data-rate, RF, fiber optic, and small form factor, high-density ruggedized connector products, including backshells. The majority will be circular, but there will be an ever-increasing use of rectangular connectors in certain applications.

The Civil & Consumer Sectors

Source: Sensat

The civil and consumer sectors include such markets as: agriculture, construction, civil government, and law enforcement. The cameras, avionic packages, and control systems used on these UAVs are quite simple and relatively inexpensive when compared to their military counterparts, but that’s reflected in their selling price, which is driven by complexity and intended use. Additionally, the number of connectors in civil and consumer UAVs are few when compared to military platforms, but the sheer volume of UAVs sold into these market sectors will generate a reasonable market size.

Many civil and consumer platforms today utilize commercial-off-the-shelf connectors (COTS). In many instances, these connectors are products currently sold into existing markets, including: industrial, automotive, and computer, but there are also some low cost military spin-offs as well. Bearing in mind that the major key to this market is cost, cost, cost, two products that are generating an especial increase in demand are low-cost micro and nano connectors.

The health of the UAV market, both military and commercial, remains strong for the foreseeable future. The key to success for the connector industry will be to continue to develop smaller size, lighter weight, higher density, and lower cost connectors for this market with a focus on the next generation of micro and nano connectors.

 
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