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U.S. Department of Defense: Unmanned Aircraft System Ground Control

This Frost & Sullivan research service titled U.S. Department of Defense: Unmanned Aircraft System Ground Control Stations and Data Links provides end-user overviews, industry challenges, types of services required, and a competitive overview of major participants in the ground control stations and data links market that make up key infrastructure nodes and communication networks supporting unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).


GCS Modernization and Development of Data Links Spearhead Growth of UAS in Recent Years

Tactical data links Accounted for about 41.3 Percent of Defense Spending on UAS Related Data Links

UAS is among the most “in demand” capabilities among the U.S. military services and efforts to employ these systems in multi-purpose and multi-role support functions is leading to rapid modernization of its key infrastructure elements – ground control stations (GCS) and data links. Further, there is a move towards system commonality through adaptation of a control segment architecture that is open, standard, and scalable and will allow operators to control multiple UAS from a common control system.

Future UAS will also require access to an interoperable, affordable, responsive and sustainable tactical network system of systems capable of satisfying service, joint, interagency, and coalition-tactical information exchanges.

“Combined, UAS related GCS and data link government contracts accounted for an estimated $493.5 million of the overall Department of Defense (DoD) contracts awarded in 2010,” notes the analyst of this research service. “UAS related tactical data links (TDL) accounted for almost half of the defense spending on data links.”

TDLs are crucial in combat environment to exchange information and situational awareness. Among the military departments, the Navy consumed most of the UAS-related data link contracts, accounting for 85.9 percent of the total spent by all the services.

In addition to demand for TDLs, the increased dependence on UAS will drive the need for redundant anti-jam data link capabilities. Defense against electromagnetic pulse requires significant effort because it destroys unprotected electronic circuits. As communications and computerized control equipment rely upon electronic circuits to deliver their function; protection of these circuits requires solutions such as shielding and redundancy. Emerging technology such as the U.S. Army’s federated universal synchronization engine (FUSE) that will combine video feeds and sensor data from multiple UAS on a single ground control station too may find a niche within the GCS market.

However, the U.S. defense budget outlook is not promising for the overall UAS market in terms of procurement. Future funding is likely to be towards services and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) directed at GCS, as the Air Force continues its modernization program for the Predator and Global Hawk systems. The migration toward standardized GCS software, interfaces, architecture, and additional capabilities will open opportunities for companies that have established a foothold in the GCS market. The development of UAS platforms may include the possibility of electronic warfare capabilities and laser weapons which could expand the crew complement of GCS or add new challenges at improving interoperability across platforms.

“Going forward, the requirement for data link encryption may open new vertical markets,” says the analyst. “Companies able to produce technology or innovation that accelerates TDL systems integration will gain significant market share.”


The following technologies are covered in this research:

- Ground control stations
- Data links
- Unmanned aerial systems
- Synchronization software


The comprehensive, objective information provided by this report allows your company to:

- mitigate risk
- identify new opportunities
- drive effective strategies for growth
1. U.S. Department of Defense, Executive Summary
- Introduction
- - Study Overview

2. U.S. Department of Defense, Market Overview
- Introduction
- - Definitions
- - Segmentation
- - Key Questions

3. U.S. Department of Defense, External Challenges: Drivers and Restraints
- External Challenges
- - Drivers - Impact and Duration
- - Restraints - Impact and Duration

4. U.S. Department of Defense, Forecasts and Trends
- Market Forecast
- - Market Engineering Measurements
- - Forecast Assumptions
- - Funding Forecast Discussion

5. U.S. Department of Defense, Market Share and Competitive Analysis
- Market Analysis
- - Competitive Analysis
- - Market Share Analysis
- - Top Competitors
- - Competitor Growth Analysis

6. U.S. Department of Defense, The Last Word
- Summation
- - Three Big Predictions

7. U.S. Department of Defense, Appendix
- References
- - Additional Information
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