The target drone technology and products have been used widely by various countries since the second world war. The technological advancements in terms of payload, platform, target type, speed of aerial target drones, mode of operation have increased the growth of the global target drone market in the defense and homeland sectors exponentially. The technology used in the target drones undergoes continuous changes and advancements to reach the demands of the market. Majorly driven by the increase of importance in realistic combat training for military personnel and air defense systems due to factors such as cross-border terrorism, smuggling activities, and maritime policies, the global target drone market is expected to be dominated by aerial target drones. The target drones serve a wide range of applications such as combat training, target and decoy, target identification, and target acquisition. The target drones are mostly procured by the Air Forces of several nations and are often equipped with augmentation payloads to mimic real threats.

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The target drones are similar to the unmanned aerial vehicles in terms of operation and can be either operated remotely, optionally, or can be completely autonomous. These are majorly used for aerial, marine, and ground targets. Due to the sophisticated systems and technology, they are widely used to simulate manned aircraft, missiles, submarines, hovercrafts, tanks, missile launcher trucks, and military personnel transport vehicles, among others, and are widely used to test, evaluate, and calibrate the weapons and sensors.

Several companies have been investing heavily either directly in developing and manufacturing the target drones or indirectly through providing the support services and technology such as catapults to launch aerial vehicles, recovery systems, payloads, and others. Some of the key companies in the global target drone market are Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc., QinetiQ, and SCR.

Impact of COVID-19 on Target Drone Technology Market

The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the growth of the market as the companies have lowered their research and development funding to develop innovative solutions. The key players in the U.S. and Europe were affected the most during the first wave of the COVID-19 and had to impose strict lockdowns to ensure the safety of their employees. This has affected the manufacturing and development of the target drones. However, with the vaccination process being implemented, the market is expected to grow gradually.

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Aerial Target Drones to Lead Global Target Drone Market during Forecast Period

The preceding figure illustrates the value of the global target drone market contributed by platform. The aerial target drone type had the highest market penetration in 2021. The aerial target drone technology is expected to generate $3,398.5 million in revenue in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.83% during the forecast period, 2021-2031, to reach $7,922.3 million by 2031.

North America to Dominate Global Target Drone Market

North America is expected to account for the highest share of 39.13% in the market in 2031, owing to a significant number of companies based in the region. Europe region is estimated to have a share of 28.78% by 2031 and is expected to witness significant growth during the forecast period. Increased spending by government organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Air Force, and Navy in different applications is expected to drive huge growth in the global target drone market during the forecast period.

Competitive Landscape

The competitive landscape of the global target drone market consists of several organic and inorganic strategies followed by the key players to increase the market share. The strategies include product innovations, product developments and launches, contracts, and business expansions, among others.

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Some of the key players in the global target drone market include AeroTargets International LLC, Air Affairs Australia, Airbus S.A.S., Boeing, Denel SOC Ltd, DRDO, Griffon Aerospace, Kadet Defence Systems, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., Leonardo S.p.A., Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ, Robonic Ltd Oy, and SCR, Sistemas de Control Remoto, among others. These companies are aiming for a wide range of product demonstrations and launches to expand their operations and increase their market presence globally.