The drive to achieve greater mission range has been acting as one of the major encouraging factors for aerial refueling system market in recent years. The U.S. military in particular, has been looking forward to the inclusion of tankers like KC-46A to their ranks of refueling tankers as this would mean the extension of strike range for fighter jets like F-15, F-22 and F-35. The growth of the aerial refueling system industry is thus of great tactical significance in the modern threat environment on account of which most nations are increasing their defense budgets. In fact, the latest trends in aerial refueling system industry are remnant of programs such as Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS). Significant competitors like Boeing, General Atomics, and Lockheed Martin have released designs for their drones for this program, which could carry out unmanned aerial refueling. With advancements brought about by technology and aircraft industry leaders, the aerial refueling system market is expected to witness considerable growth over 2017-2024.
U.S. Aerial Refueling System Market, By System, 2016 & 2024, (Units)
Modern warfare heavily influenced by aerial refueling
Aerial refueling system market will find its largest consumer in the military sector. Extending the strike range of combat aircrafts is the chief reason for the Air Force to use aerial refueling systems. Long range strike weapons used by adversaries can make it difficult for the Air Force to base and launch fighter jets within proximal striking distance. This factor has found increased relevance in places like the Pacific, a region that has become infamous for its geographical expanse and can cause much hindrance to a tactical attack.
Modern aircrafts are designed to carry a substantial amount of fuel. For instance, an F-16 can carry 880 gallons of fuel while an F-22 can carry 2600 gallons of fuel. However, a considerable amount of fuel is burnt during takeoff and if the aircraft is carrying a heavy load, the amount of fuel burnt is increased. Aerial refueling systems on the other hand, allow an aircraft with a heavy load to take off with less fuel so as to decrease the overall aircraft weight. The option for aerial refueling also means that aircrafts have to land less often while travelling long distances and hence less time is wasted for the crew.
North America to lead the global trend in aerial refueling system industry
North America is anticipated to emerge as a key growth ground for the global aerial refueling systems industry. The continent houses the United States of America, a nation that has been involved in many airborne wars in the last two decades. One instance when US successfully used aerial refueling was during its operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Operation Enduring Freedom. The U.S. Air Force launched their combat aircrafts from bases in Kuwait, British Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf off the coast of Pakistan which meant that aircrafts had to fly hundreds to thousands of miles before they reached their targets in Afghanistan.
This had further necessitated the creation of an air bridge that consisted of approximately 4700 aerial refueling missions over the length of the air borne offensive. Indeed, this mission made the U.S. military one of the leaders in North America aerial refueling system market. Incidentally, North America is estimated to capture more than 50% of the overall aerial refueling system market share over 2017-2024.
U.S. military operations such as Desert Storm or NATO operation like Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were closely observed by most of the military powers across the globe. Apparently, this had made them realize the significant importance of the evolving air borne warfare in the modern scenario and the criticality of aerial refueling. Many like the China’s People Liberation Army decided that they have to become capable in engaging in high-tech warfare to keep pace with modern militaries. It would therefore be appropriate to state that aerial refueling system industry has received a considerable boost from demand in the Asia Pacific region as well, especially in countries like China, Japan and Australia that are ready to embolden their air power projection with aerial refueling systems.
Competitive outlook of the aerial refueling system market
Some of the leading names that are battling for supremacy in the aerial refueling system market are Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Cobham PLC, Zodiac Aerospace, GE Aviation System, Dassault Aviation, Marshal Aerospace & Defense Group and Eaton Corporation. These companies undeniably have been vying with one another to accomplish the top slot across this business space.
Boeing recently achieved a feat in aerial refueling system market when a refueling test between two KC-46 Pegasus aerial tankers was carried out. One of the KC-46 transferred 14,600 pounds of jet fuel to the other at a record rate of 1,200 gallon per minute. Boeing further plans to build 179 such aircrafts that will carry passengers and patients and are designed to withstand chemical, nuclear, radiological and biological warfare. The company’s efforts are a vivid indicator that aerial refueling systems industry is here to stay. Aided by a plethora of research and development programs and innovative product launches, global aerial refueling system market is expected to gain significant traction over 2017-2024.