High altitude platforms (HAPs) are systems similar to satellites that are used for environmental monitoring, communication, surveillance, aerial imaging, beaming internet services, and navigation. These systems are designed to stay aloft at altitudes upward of 50,000 feet for long periods of time. While aircrafts operate at lower altitudes, high altitude platforms are stationed much higher than commercial aircrafts. Since HAPs are stationed at higher altitudes, they are capable of covering a much larger surface area, thus making them useful for land-based and maritime applications.
Demand for Wireless Communication Services Boosts High Altitude Platforms Market
High altitude platform systems have applications similar to satellite systems, and are cost effective as compared to the latter. Since the operating cost and maintenance cost of a high altitude platform system is significantly lower than that of a satellite system, it is increasingly being preferred over satellites. Moreover, HAPs are also compatible with the prevailing infrastructure, thus boosting their adoption. The high demand for high altitude platform systems from the defense and government sectors for the purpose of surveillance is driving the market. The rising demand from consumers across the globe for wireless communication services is also benefitting the global high altitude platforms market, as HAPs are used for delivering wireless internet services.
The market’s restraints include the high costs of UAVs and operational issues of airships and aerostat systems. Countries with lower defense budgets are therefore unable to afford these systems. Moreover, the aerostat systems are difficult to handle and very slow to deploy.
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Tethered Aerostat Systems Segment of HAP Market to Witness High Demand due to Low Cost
The global high altitude platforms market is segmented on the basis of platform into UAV aircraft, airships, and tethered aerostat systems. While the UAV aircraft segment accounted for the largest share in the global HAP market in 2014, the tethered aerostat systems segment will witness the highest demand in the coming years due to the several advantages it offers, such as low maintenance costs, easy upgrading, and lower overall cost as compared to UAV aircrafts.
On the basis of payloads, the global high altitude platforms market is segmented into navigation, EO/IR systems, surveillance systems, and communication. In 2014, the communication segment dominated the global high altitude platforms market. Moreover, the communication segment is expected to retain its dominance in the near future, owing to the rising growth prospects of HAP-based wireless communication across several regions.
Asia Pacific to Experience Highest Growth in Global High Altitude Platforms Market
The global high altitude platforms market is segmented on the basis of geography into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa. Out of these, North America represented 31% of the global high altitude platforms market in 2014, which was the largest in terms of revenue. The growth in the region was due to the high adoption of UAVs in this region. Asia Pacific on the other hand, is expected to witness the highest growth in the future owing to the rapid adoption of aerostat systems and UAV aircraft in India, South Korea, China, and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Some of the leading manufacturers of high altitude platform systems include: Lockheed Martin Corporation, TCOM L.P., Raytheon Company, ILC Dover LP., Aerostar International, Inc. (Raven Industries, Inc.), Israel Aviation Industries Ltd., Lindstrand Technologies Ltd., AeroVironment, Inc., Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., and Worldwide Aeros Corporation.