Research and innovation in digitalisation in the air force equipment and technologies sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of digitalisation related patent applications in the industry stood at 35 in the three months ending February – down from 81 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to digitalisation followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 60 in the three months ending February 2021 to 40 in the same period in 2022.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

Digitalisation is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

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The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Raytheon Technologies was the top digitalisation innovator in the air orce equipment and technologies sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the US, filed 27 digitalisation related patents in the three months ending February. That was up from 18 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by UK-based Rolls-Royce Holdings with 18 digitalisation patent applications, France-based Thales (12 applications), and US-based Boeing (12 applications).

Rolls-Royce Holdings has recently ramped up R&D in digitalisation. It saw growth of 83.3% in related patent applications in the three months ending February compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than ten quarterly patents in the air force equipment and technologies sector.