Analysts expect the countermeasures market to double over the next 10 years, with much of the growth being driven by the demand to equip civil aircraft, as airlines and governments spend over $3 billion to defend against missile attack.

Consultancy Frost & Sullivan (F&S) predicts that the trend toward asymmetric warfare and the terrorist threat will mean a risk of increasingly sophisticated infrared guiding missiles being fired at low-flying military aircraft, especially at take-off and landing when conventional flares are less effective. Flares are also impractical for commercial use. Overall, annual sales of countermeasures will grow to $2.2 billion in 2012 from $1.1 billion last year, according to F&S.

Meeting the new commercial demand will bring $3.2billion to countermeasures manufacturers over the next 10 years, says F&S, led by BAE Systems with the Matador system, Northrop Grumman with Nemesis, and Rafael with Britening.

Although the proposed US Commercial aircraft missile defence act allows funding for the entire US airliner fleet to be fitted with countermeasures, for up to $9 billion, F&S believes that by 2012 only 22%of the US fleet and 13%of Asian and European fleets will carry them.

Demand for military countermeasures will also be driven by the rising cost of individual platforms, and the increasing unacceptability of combat deaths. The growing complexity and numbers of unmanned air vehicles will also lead air forces to mount countermeasures to protect these increasingly valuable assets.

Source: Flight International