High Altitude Platform (HAP) Market size was over USD 2.7 billion in 2015 and is estimated to grow at 11% CAGR and attain over USD 7 billion by 2024. Attributes such as lower maintenance & operational expenses, less installation time in comparison to extensive satellite systems, and better compatibility with existing infrastructure are expected to drive demand.
The need for effective surveillance covering large surface areas for national security and requirement for reliable and faster communication means around the world is expected to enhance growth in the forecast timeframe. Emerging economies around the globe are expected to make huge investments to cope with the rising demand for faster and reliable wireless communications, boosting global high altitude platform market size. Elevated platforms are stationed objects at height ranging between 20 kilometers and 50 kilometers from the earth’s surface, in the stratospheric layer. This stratospheric layer lies much below the altitude at which the satellites operate and well above the commercial air traffic heights. This feature is enhancing product compatibility in the existing aerospace infrastructure.
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These systems are widely used for environment and weather monitoring due to their considerable weight carrying capacity for scientific equipment. Lately, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in association with NASA are using Global Hawk UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) to study global atmospheric conditions. Such technological advancements are expected to drive the high altitude platform market.
Although HAP systems are more economical than satellite systems, the high altitude platform station (HAPS) market growth is majorly restrained by its expensive initial costs. Considerable expenses for maintenance and stringent regulatory scenario may act as growth barriers. U.S., China and Israel harbor most of the HAP companies resulting in least utilization and elevated cost of systems. Moreover, airships and aerostat systems face operational challenges such as restriction of payload weight, difficult handling, less flight time and slow deployment.
The high altitude platform market is expected to witness considerable growth rate due to increasing adoption of tethered aerostat system for wireless communication. Investments in development of UAV with longer flight hours and solar powered systems for eco-friendly solutions are expected to gain prominence. Thales Alenia Space is building a = prototype for the future surveillance, telecommunications and real time monitoring of regions, which will be powered by solar electric propulsion system.
HAPs are expected to be used as rocket launch platform for reducing the atmospheric drag, allowing the utilization of mass drivers for launching humans and goods into orbit. Opportunities for elevated altitude UAVs with longer flight hours are projected to drive the high altitude platform industry.
On the basis of product, the industry can be segmented into UAVs, airships, and tethered aerostat systems. In 2015, UAVs held the largest share; however, owing to the lower flight hours and high cost, the for the industry expects demand for tethered aerostat systems and airships. Since they can carry heavy payloads for longer flight hours and incur minimal maintenance costs, aerostat system and airships are projected to expand substantially in the forecast timeline.
High altitude platform market is diversified into surveillance, communication, navigation and electro-optical or infrared (EO/IR) systems, by payload. In 2015, HAPs were majorly used for surveillance and EO/IR systems, with communication forecast to grow faster than the global average. Key applications can also be bifurcated into commercial and government & defense segments. U.S. high altitude platform market share was the largest in 2015, owing to high adoption of tethered aerostat systems and UAVs. Intensifying concern for national security owing to rising terrorist activities, are projected to increase investment. Asia Pacific high altitude platform market size is expected to grow at the highest CAGR due to demand from countries such as China, India, Japan, South Korea etc., for robust HAP based solutions. Russia, France and Israel have also made significant investments.
Key participants holding major high altitude platform market share are TCOM L.P., Lockheed Martin Corp., Aerostar International, and Northrop Grumman Corp. Other participants include Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, ILC Dover, Israel Aerospace, Lindstrand Technologies and Raytheon. The key players are focusing on development of the product portfolio for better industry presence and acquiring international clients.
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