Jun 17, 2010

Use Of Commercial Earth Observation Data To Triple

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

Euroconsult has released a comprehensive study analyzing the mechanisms defense and security agencies will use to satisfy their image intelligence (IMINT) requirements over the coming decade. In its new report “Earth Observation: Defense and Security, World Prospects to 2019,” Euroconsult forecasts government procurement of commercial satellite Earth observation (EO) data will reach $2.6 billion by 2019, up from only $735 million in 2009.

As governments try to reconcile their increasingly sophisticated IMINT needs with growing budget constraints, agencies around the world are exploring a variety of solutions.

“Defense budgets are under pressure and developing autonomous satellite capacities remains costly, just as commercial Earth observation data is becoming a viable solution for defense and security applications,” said Adam Keith, the Montreal-based Director of Earth Observation for Euroconsult.

“This combination of factors will encourage governments to look towards the most cost-effective combination of solutions to meet their IMINT requirements, including development of dual-use systems, increasing government cooperation to access third-party systems, and purchasing commercial data.”

Driving this increasing demand is the growing prevalence of commercial high-resolution optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, improved image accuracy and reduced data-delivery times, making commercial data suitable for defense intelligence needs, which was not previously the case.

Despite these less expensive alternatives, spending for government-owned EO satellites is also expected to see a healthy increase, creating significant returns for the satellite manufacturing industry. From 2000-2009, governments in nine nations launched 57 satellites specifically developed for defense applications, representing overall revenues of $12.5 billion for the satellite manufacturing industry worldwide.

Over the coming decade, Euroconsult expects manufacturing revenues to grow to $18.3 billion with a marked increase in number of satellites and average revenue per satellite increasing slightly.

The U.S. market has led the way in uptake of commercial data for IMINT. Commercial revenues from U.S. defense and security agencies reached $430 million in 2009, representing more than half of all commercial data distributed globally to defense users. Adoption of commercial data solutions for defense applications has remained more modest in other markets, largely due to the only-relatively-recent availability of commercial data suitable for defense and security purposes.

However, the next generation of high-resolution, high-accuracy commercial solutions and development of data reseller networks around the world will contribute to growing adoption in number of other markets in the coming decade.

The Euroconsult report also examines prevailing government attitudes toward EO procurement, including customer requirements for IMINT/GEOINT; the use of satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to gather data; and the risks and challenges governments face in using commercial data. A separate section of the report looks at trends and analysis in EO satellite manufacturing, including average satellite costs and market value by region; government defense programs and initiatives; autonomous satellite capacity; financing mechanisms (including dual-use); and the business of high-resolution data suppliers. The report includes profiles of a range of government customers, including those in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and Inter-Governmental Organizations such as NATO and EUSC.

Source Spacedaily and Euroconsult