The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by modernisation and the accelerated digitisation of the battlefield and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on High intensity warfare in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Missile aerodynamic guidance system. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Missile aerodynamic guidance system is a key innovation area in high intensity warfare

Aerodynamic guidance systems are a critical component for all modern missile systems, acting as the ‘pilot’ and guiding the missile to its intended target through the use of a variety of active and passive sensors to determine the optimal flight path. Modern missiles use a wide range of guidance systems, each of which has its own unique benefits and limitations. Commonly employed guidance systems rely on technologies such as GPS, radars, radio-frequencies, lasers and thermal signatures to identify targets.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10 companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of missile aerodynamic guidance system.

Key players in missile aerodynamic guidance system – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to missile aerodynamic guidance system

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
BAE Systems 45 Unlock Company Profile
Elbit Systems 32 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 28 Unlock Company Profile
Orbital Research 15 Unlock Company Profile
Blue Origin 15 Unlock Company Profile
Agency For Defense Development 13 Unlock Company Profile
KMW+Nexter Defense Systems 11 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
OMNITEK PARTNERS 8 Unlock Company Profile
Diehl Stiftung 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

BAE Systems has been the most prolific patent applicant for missile aerodynamic guidance technology over the last several years. BAE Systems was contracted by Lockheed Martin earlier this year to provide RF and microwave missile seekers and sensors for the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) programme. Elbit Systems is another key developer in the field of missile guidance systems, with their flagship SPIKE anti-tank guided missile attracting clients from around the globe due to its advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) targeting capabilities. Elbit also manufactures the GATR and LIZARD modular guidance kits to enhance the precision of certain munitions. Though Raytheon Technologies has lagged behind BAE Systems and Elbit Systems in terms of patent applications in recent years, its diverse and growing product portfolio highlights its significant expertise in the development of missile guidance technologies, with the ARMAAM and GEM-T missiles constituting the most recent examples of Raytheon’s investments in advanced guidance systems. Some other key patent filers in the aerospace and defence industry include Blue Origin, Diehl Stiftung, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Nexter, Orbital Research and Israel Aerospace Industries.

In terms of application diversity, Blue Origin outpaces other defence firms such as Diehl Stiftung and Orbital Research, which ranked second and third, respectively. PACCAR and FedEx stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Elbit Systems held the top position, followed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Diehl Stiftung.

Innovation in the field of missile aerodynamic guidance technologies will be spurred by the imperative amongst western militaries to modernise their weapons systems and ensure lethality against a peer-level adversary. Indeed, the war in Ukraine has shown that although missiles systems play a central role in high intensity conflicts, the proliferation of electronic warfare capabilities and vehicular survivability solutions necessitates a commensurate investment in the development of more versatile and resilient missile guidance systems to guarantee target hits on future battlefields.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research: High Intensity Warfare.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.