The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and satellites. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in defense: missile aerodynamic guidance. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry

Missile aerodynamic guidance is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Missile aerodynamic guidance refers to the use of control surfaces and systems to control the orientation and flight path of missile projectiles during both ascent and descent phases. It involves the use of bidirectional control surfaces positioned towards the aft portion of the missile to achieve nose-first ascent and tail-first descent, enabling precise guidance and control of the missile towards its target.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of missile aerodynamic guidance.

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

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

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

Patent volumes related to missile aerodynamic guidance

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Beijing Aerospace Feiteng Equipment Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Blue Origin 15 Unlock Company Profile
Elbit Systems 38 Unlock Company Profile
Diehl Stiftung 5 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 1 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 1 Unlock Company Profile
Poongsan 1 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 51 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 2 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 14 Unlock Company Profile
Orbital Research 17 Unlock Company Profile
Hanwha 6 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 2 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhan Guide Infrared 1 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 1 Unlock Company Profile
Wilcox Industries 4 Unlock Company Profile
OMNITEK PARTNERS 12 Unlock Company Profile
Turkish Armed Forces Foundation 1 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 22 Unlock Company Profile
LIG Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Leigh Aerosystems 3 Unlock Company Profile
China Aerospace Times Electronics 1 Unlock Company Profile
Landspace Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
L3Harris Technologies 1 Unlock Company Profile
KMW+Nexter Defense Systems 12 Unlock Company Profile
Skyborne Technologies 2 Unlock Company Profile
Shaanxi Zhongtian Rocket Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Agency For Defense Development 17 Unlock Company Profile
Hebei Hanguang Heavy Industry 1 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Hengxing Jianxiang Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Foshan Haike Yunchou Information Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

BAE Systems is one of the leading patent filers in missile aerodynamic guidance. It filed patents related to a munition and guidance navigation and control unit device for munitions projectiles like missiles.

The device is designed to avoid roll movement that happens when the munitions projectile is launched. It is set up in a way that prevents the rolling motion from affecting its own stability. Therefore, it helps the projectile stay on course without getting disrupted by the rolling motion during launch.

BAE Systems, together with the US Army, successfully tested a long-range guided projectile with enhanced lethality at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in March 2023.

Some other key patent filers in this space include Elbit Systems, Raytheon, and Blue Origin.   

In terms of application diversity, Skyborne Technologies, Diehl Stiftung, and Turkish Armed Forces Foundation are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Elbit Systems, KMW+Nexter Defense Systems, and Israel Aerospace Industries.  

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.

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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.