The global fighter aircraft market had a revenue holding of USD 44.57 billion in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 62.4 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.3% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Fighter aircraft are primarily made for securing vital airspace from the enemy by shooting them down in combat. A fighter aircraft is a fast military aircraft primarily made for dogfights, one-on-one air combat, and flying in stealth while avoiding detection. Bombers and assault aircraft can indulge in enemy targets' tactical and strategic bombing when they control the airspace above a battlefield. These aircraft can easily maneuver at supersonic speeds, carry large payloads, and conduct electronic warfare, ground attacks, and air-to-air combat. A conventional take-off and landing configuration is the basis for most fighter aircraft currently being produced.
Countries are working to improve their ability to engage in aerial combat as tensions between various international powers rise. Many countries have been replacing or modernizing their outdated fighter jets with more modern, high-tech aircraft. The sector has seen extensive procurement and development activity for fighter jets over the past several years due to the increase in global defense spending by several countries. The main factors anticipated to propel the growth of the fighter aircraft market are rising defense spending, increasing emphasis on fleet modernization and expansion, and rising attention on developing indigenous, modern generation fighter aircraft.
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Increased Defense Investments to Aid Growth
The architecture of the international security system has been compromised by the expanding hegemonism, unilateralism, and power politics that have ignited multiple geopolitical crises due to the fundamental changes in the global strategic landscape. Territorial disputes between several nations, such as the Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran, are among the main factors upsetting the geopolitical environment. Governments' most frequent response in this regard is to raise military spending to enhance security in their respective nations. Several fighter aircraft developments, procurement, and modernization initiatives are now under progress to improve the aerial combat capabilities of the air and naval forces. Currently, these programs are backed by the rise in defense budgets. Several new fighter jet development programs are now in motion, and various nations worldwide have recently placed orders for newer fighter aircraft.
To extend their lifespan and maintain their combat capability for a few more years, numerous governments have also started modernizing their current fleets with new generation avionics and subsystems. Throughout the forecast period, these programs are anticipated to continue airing. Fighter aircraft development, acquisition, and upkeep need significant defense spending from the nations. For example, it is expected that the United States, which has the highest defense spending in the world, will spend over USD 1.5 trillion throughout its F-35 jet fighter fleet's lifetime on construction, deployment, and maintenance. Similarly, several countries have devoted significant defense budgets to their fighter aircraft fleet. As a result, the fighter aircraft market is currently driven by increased defense spending.
Rise in Global Crisis to Hinder Market Growth
A substantial amount of defense spending is required for any acquisition or upgrade effort. To maintain lengthy lead-time improvement initiatives, military procurement efforts must simultaneously develop cutting-edge technologies that can increase dependability and capabilities. Governments must spend more of their GDP on defense due to the significant costs associated with the modernization, acquisition, or domestic production of advanced fighter aircraft with all the critical weapon systems. Due to the slower growth rate of commodity exporters in Africa, South America, and several Middle Eastern nations, global economic growth has slowed over the past few years. This aspect is anticipated to pose a hurdle to expanding the fighter aircraft market in several countries during the forecast period, as nations intend to allocate their dwindling financial resources depending on immediate priorities.
Technological Advancements and Advent of 6th Generation Fighter Aircrafts
The future of aerial warfare will depend more on the technologies that follow aircraft than on the aircraft. In the long run, military strategies are anticipated to value data fusion and artificial intelligence more. As a result, the armed forces are putting more effort into modernizing its sensors, imaging systems, weapon systems, and target recognition systems, and advancements in this area are predicted to be the driving force behind upcoming fighter aircraft generations. The 6th generation of fighters would include any new aircraft. Though there are no clearly defined capabilities for a 6th generation fighter aircraft, features such as being optionally manned with the capacity to undertake remote or AI-controlled missions, the ability to operate a swarm of drones with the aid of battlefield data fusion, increased-range standoff weapons, and possessing directed-energy weapons, such as a laser CIWS and virtual cockpit helmet-mounted display for pilots, is believed to be the significant features of the 6th generation fighter aircraft.
The global fighter aircraft market is segmented into take-off & landing, aircraft type, and region.
Based on take-off and landing, the global fighter aircraft market includes Conventional Take-Off & Landing Aircraft, Short Take-Off & Landing Aircraft, and Vertical Take-Off & Landing Aircraft.
The Conventional Take-Off & Landing section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 3.4% and hold the largest market share over the forecast period. One of the primary drivers of the market's increased demand for aircraft is technological development and lower acquisition costs related to aircraft that can execute conventional take-off and landing. Additionally, these aircraft have a far greater combat range and can carry a more significant cargo of weapons and equipment. Throughout the projected timeframe, it is anticipated that new fighter aircraft programs, including the F-35A, China's J-20, Su-37, Mig-35, Su 57, and India's Tejas MK2, will replace aging fourth-generation fighter aircraft with 4.5 Generation and 5th Generation aircraft. The improvement of aircraft performance and life extension is projected to keep users interested in the F-16, F-15, and F/A-18 modernization programs.
The Short Take-Off & Landing section will hold the second-largest share. These aircraft are used on big aircraft carriers and in hilly areas where the runways are limited, and the aircraft must carry heavy payloads and maintain altitude for extended periods. Today's fighter jets used on aircraft carriers are primarily STOL (short take-off and landing) models built for an arrested landing. As they have a more excellent operational range and require fewer resources to operate from a carrier ship, STOL aircraft that can operate from ships without a catapult system are anticipated to see greater demand.
Based on aircraft type, the global fighter aircraft market includes Fixed-Wing and Rotorcraft.
The Fixed-Wing section is projected to advance significantly and have the highest growth over the forecast period. A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavy-weight flying machine with wings that may lift off the ground due to the craft's forward airspeed, like an airplane. The development of more sophisticated and stealthy fixed-wing aircraft, rising fixed-wing aircraft orders, and rising fixed-wing aircraft deliveries during the projection period are all contributing factors to the segment's growth. Most fixed-wing aircraft have a pilot aboard to control them; however, some are explicitly developed to be autonomous and controlled remotely or automatically (using onboard computers).
The regional segmentation of the global fighter aircraft market includes North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Is APAC Likely to Dominate the Global Fighter Aircraft Market?
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Asia-Pacific will command the leading market share, expanding at a CAGR of 7.1% over the forecast period. The Asia-Pacific fighter aircraft market is majorly led by China. China has attempted to compete with the United States in designing and engineering newer fighter jets in past years. China has created several next-generation fighter aircraft, notably the stealth fighter J-20, while behind other countries in developing aircraft engines. China also improved the new Block-3 variant of the JF-17 fighter jets. The JF-17 has been updated to include J-20 stealth fighter technologies.
China is also building a new carrier-based fighter plane to replace its J-15 jets, which have seen numerous mishaps and mechanical issues. China intends to create at least four aircraft carrier groups to realize its navy's aspirations. The Chinese Navy is in dire need of a stealth fighter jet that can compete with the US F-35B and F-35C, and this new aircraft will be a medium-sized stealth aircraft to complement the hefty J-20 stealth fighter jet. Such advancements are projected to bring more positive results to the Asia Pacific fighter aircraft market.
North America is expected to advance at a CAGR of 4.2%, generating USD 16,219 million over the forecast period. China and Russia's improved battlefield capability necessitated the region's increased investment in technologically superior weapon systems. The increase in the North American armed services' purchase of missiles and missile defense systems was heavily influenced by other variables, such as the Middle East's escalating bloodshed by geopolitical unrest and terrorism. The US president recommended a budget for national security in 2020 of USD 740.5 billion (pre-COVID), of which USD 705.4 billion was given to the Department of Defense (DoD). A fiscal allocation of around USD 125 billion was included in the base budget for FY-2021 to improve the mission readiness of various military forces. The market for fighter aircraft in the region benefits from such investments.
The United States military has been improving its aviation capabilities with the government's support by replacing outdated aircraft with newer models and adding cutting-edge military technology to aircraft as part of lifetime upgrades. Additionally, the nations in the region have been attempting to upgrade the capabilities of outdated aircraft. For instance, the US Company Lockheed Martin was chosen by the Air Force in 2017 to participate in the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for a section of its current F-16C/D Vipers. According to the project, the business would alter the jets so they could fly for about 4,000 more flight hours, bringing their total flying time to 12,000 flight hours. They would also extend the aircraft's combat life to at least 2048. 300 aircraft in Blocks 40 through 52 will be covered under the program.