The military transport aircraft market was valued at USD 16. 07 billion in 2020, and it is projected to register a CAGR of 4. 88%, reaching USD 21. 76 billion by 2026. - Due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the year 2020 and the first half of 2021 witnessed new use cases and increased utilization of transport aircraft.
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In addition to strategic and tactical airlifting, transport aircraft were also used to perform more critical supply flights, delivering personal protective equipment, medicines, and ventilators from foreign countries. In some countries, transport aircraft were also used in addition to commercial aircraft, to repatriate nationals stranded overseas by sudden lockdowns, and to conduct medical evacuation tasks.
- As the tensions between various global nations are increasing, countries are striving to enhance their aerial combat and support capabilities. Several nations are upgrading their existing transport aircraft or replacing their aging fleet with newer-generation aircraft. With the growth in defense spending by several nations around the world, the industry has witnessed several procurements and upgrade activities for transport aircraft, in the last few years.
- Aerial refueling has become an important capability of any military aircraft. The number of aircrafts that can be refueled mid-air is increasing with the global armed forces, as possessing such capability will enhance the combat range of the aircraft and help them achieve mission objectives in short time, without the need for landing for refueling. This, in turn, is driving the demand for mid-air refueling tanker aircraft globally.
Key Market Trends
Rotorcraft Segment Held the Largest Market Share in 2020
The rotorcraft segment held the largest market share in 2020. Military transport helicopters are being used to perform a variety of tasks ranging from airlifting troops, cargo resupply, firefighting, and medical evacuation. Many countries are planning to upgrade their military transport rotorcraft fleet, while some fleet modernization programs are already underway. Singapore also envisions replacing its fleet of AS332 Super Pumas. On this note, in March 2021, the first H-225M medium-lift transport helicopter was delivered to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). Though the H225M is based on the Super Puma and looks broadly similar to its predecessor, it is fitted with new engines, new avionics, and an enlarged main cabin that the manufacturer claims can carry up to 28 troops in normal cabin seats, or 14 in energy-absorbing wall-mounted seats. Similar initiatives by other countries is expected to fuel the demand for military transport rotorcraft during the forecast period. Major military helicopter OEMs have been focused on overcoming the staggering challenges. They have been trying to attain higher speed, superior agility and maneuverability, and a high survival rate in bad weather. This led to the development of several designs and integration of other technological enhancements in modern military helicopters. For instance, in July 2021, China debuted the Z-8L large military transport helicopter. The Z-8L has a wider body than any other domestically developed rotorcraft in the country. It is envisioned to significantly boost the frontline transport and fast-reaction combat capability of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Also, in August 2020, Russian Helicopters, a part of Rostec, unveiled the upgraded MI-171SJ Storm military transport helicopter at the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2020. The Mi-171Sh Storm is equipped with upgraded engines, a new rotor system with an improved profile composite main rotor and X-shaped tail rotor, and the latest version of the President-S on-board aircraft defense system. Such developments are expected to drive the growth of the segment during the forecast period.
North America Region is Expected to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
North America held the largest market share by geography in 2020. The region is also expected to continue its dominance in the market, holding the largest market share each year during the forecast period. Major demand for the transport aircraft in the region is from the United States, the largest defense spender in the world. The United States has the largest fleet of transport aircraft and helicopters. The country is also planning to increase its fleet of transport aircraft in the coming years. Recently, in January 2021, the USAF awarded a contract worth USD 1.7 billion for the sixth production lot of 12 KC-46A tanker aircraft. Likewise, In 2020, Lockheed Martin won a USD 3 billion multiyear contract to deliver up to 50 C-130J Super Hercules to the US Air Force (USAF), US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Coast Guard. The Department of Defense awarded USD 1.5 billion for the first tranche of 21 C-130Js. In total, the company is contracted to deliver a mix of 24 HC-130Js and MC-130Js to the USAF, and 20 KC-130s to the USMC, while the US Coast Guard has an option to buy six HC-130Js. The deliveries will take place between 2021-2025. The US Air Force has also recently upgraded its C-21 aircraft fleet with an upgraded avionics suite. Apart from the fixed-wing transport aircraft, the US armed forces are also modernizing its fleet of utility helicopters. Large orders have been confirmed and planned for helicopters, such as V-22 Osprey variants, S-70 variants, Chinook, H145, and CH-53K. These new helicopters will replace the aging older models in the fleet. The US Navy plans to retire all its C-2 aircraft by 2024, as it has started taking deliveries of CMV-22B Osprey. Both US Navy and US Marine Corps have placed orders for Ospreys in the past few years. In June 2020, the US Navy received the first CMV-22B Osprey aircraft. Such procurements will drive the growth of the military transport aircraft market in the North America during the forecast period.
Some of the prominent players in the market are The Boeing Company, Airbus SE, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Textron Inc., and Rostec. The market for transport aircraft has the potential to grow steadily over the next decade, as several countries are looking to replace their aging fleet of transport aircraft. While the OEM market is dominated primarily by the players from North America and Europe, new players are also emerging from the regions like Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. For instance, India’s HAL has unveiled plans to develop a 13-tonne twin-engine, multi-role, medium-lift transport helicopter termed the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH). The helicopter is expected to compete in the medium-lift transport helicopter market hitherto monopolized by the Russian Mi-17. Likewise, Turkey is also developing TAI T625 Gökbey, which is the country’s first indigenous new generation utility helicopter. AVIC is working on developing various transport aircraft and helicopters for international markets and might become a key player in the latter half of the forecast period. These factors are expected to make the market more competitive during the forecast period.
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