The military rotorcraft market is forecast to grow between 2012 and 2017 despite defence budget cuts, due to current military helicopters becoming obsolete or reaching the end of their operational life.
Traditionally, North America and Europe accounted for 80% of global defence expenditure. However, the global economic downturn, US economic crisis, and European debt crisis are expected to negatively impact defence expenditure over the coming 10 years.
A rotorcraft or rotary wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotor blades, which revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted on a single mast are referred to as a rotor.
A helicopter is a rotorcraft whose rotors are driven by the engine(s) throughout the flight to allow the helicopter to take off vertically, hover, fly forwards, backwards and laterally, as well as to land vertically. Helicopters have several different configurations of one or more main rotors.
Low intensity conflicts and operations other than war have increased significantly, driving the demand for military helicopters. In both land and maritime environments, fast moving unconventional and irregular enemy forces pose intelligence problems.
Helicopters are well suited for this role with accurate intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities.
In addition, demand for helicopters able to rapidly reconfigure other roles such as medical evacuation and other humanitarian relief efforts is expected to increase over the next decade.
Military helicopter manufacturers are understandably anxious, primarily due to the expected US$700 billion defence budget cuts between 2012 and 2023. Even though helicopters are expected to be the one of the least affected segments, the market sentiments are cautious with regards to future expenditure.
Due to limited budgets, many countries worldwide are looking to replace their helicopter fleet with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The reasons for this are that UAVs are cheaper, do not require support, and their pilots can fly from the safety of a control room.
Owing to dangerous operations in Afghanistan and Iraq which have resulted in a low tolerance for casualties by the public, UAVs are considered to be ideal to prevent unnecessary loss of life.
For more information on the military rotorcraft market, see the latest research: Military Rotorcraft Market
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