The Counter Drone Stack - Part 3: Market Trends 🌐 | European Defence Hackathon 🧑‍💻

Welcome 🇪🇺

This time we conclude our three-part series on the counter-drone stack with an analysis of the current market demands and trends in the sector.

Our guest author Gunin Singh who was a 1st Lieutenant in the Singaporean Army working hands on with tactical drones, has all the details for you in this last part of our series on the counter drone stack.

We’re also supporting the inaugural European DefenceTech Hackathon in Munich in late June. If you want to meet us, sign up here.

Jannic and Jack

The Counter Drone Stack - Market Demand & Trends 🌐

The global landscape for drones and counter-UAS technologies is witnessing rapid growth and innovation, driven by increasing threats from unauthorised drone usage across various sectors including defence, homeland security, and commercial applications. The market for counter-UAS technologies is expanding significantly, with substantial investments in research and development, as well as procurement by military and government agencies worldwide.

Several market reports have estimated the current global market for counter-UAS systems to be approximately US$1.6 billion in 2023, and this market is expected to grow at a rate of 20%-25% in the coming decade. [18] [19] This rapid growth in demand is fuelled by the increasing understanding that the drones have become a new emerging threat, one that will continue to grow in the coming years, and that counter-UAS systems make-up the very first-line of defence.

The scope of threats has vastly increased and it has become increasingly pertinent for even non-military actors to ensure the safety and security of their assets. Buyers of counter-UAS systems encompass a wide range of sectors beyond the military, including civil aviation authorities, law enforcement agencies, and organisations involved in critical infrastructure protection such as airports, prisons, and power plants. These entities seek to defend against unauthorised drones that may pose security threats, engage in espionage, or cause disruptions to sensitive operations.

Key-Players in the Market
In the realm of counter-UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) technologies, industry giants such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Airbus stand out for their extensive weapon systems. These entities have developed complex systems, primarily aimed at military applications, serving a niche market. For instance, Lockheed Martin's Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) is engineered to detect, track, identify, and neutralise drone threats—a capability that has been deployed across military bases and vital infrastructures worldwide to ensure protection against drone incursions. Similarly, Northrop Grumman's M-ACE system (Figure 3) offers cutting-edge solutions for drone detection and mitigation, boasting deployments in conflict zones for real-time surveillance and threat neutralisation. [20] [21] Raytheon's Coyote® UAS (Figure 4) excels in addressing swarm threats [22], and Airbus'/HENSOLDT’s counter-UAS Xpeller gear, which combines various sensors and effectors, is designed to detect and neutralise UAS threats, and has been chosen to safeguard airports and significant national events in Europe. [23]

These examples highlight the industry's inclination towards intricate, high-investment initiatives tailored for national defence. Nevertheless, Anduril Industries stands as a formidable challenger, disrupting the status quo with its streamlined, tech-centric approach to research and development. Anduril exemplifies a burgeoning trend in defence innovation, demonstrating that agile and technologically sophisticated solutions can have practical applications beyond conventional military settings. The firm's success in securing contracts for border surveillance and facility protection in the US underscores the efficacy and adaptability of these modern systems. [24]

Given Anduril's ascent, there seemingly is an unmistakable opportunity for Europe to foster its cadre of tech-oriented defence innovators. By establishing a European analogue to Anduril, the continent could significantly bolster its security independence while positioning itself at the cutting edge of contemporary military technology. Such a move would reduce reliance on external entities for advanced counter-UAS capabilities, marking a strategic pivot towards self-sufficiency in defence technology.

In the evolving detection towers and counter-UAS landscape, innovative firms like Dedrone, Aartos, ESG, THALES, and MARSS are addressing the demand for cost-effective, reliable solutions. These companies offer a range of products from detection systems to comprehensive countermeasures. Dedrone uses their DroneSensors (Figure 6) in conjunction with their DroneTracker.AI, a plug and play detection and tracking software, for critical infrastructure protection. This has achieved approval by the UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. [25] Aartos is known for its signal jamming capabilities in secure facilities, with their product lines of fixed and mobile Anti-Drone Jammers. [26] [27] ESG’s Rohde & Schwarz’s and Diehl's joint solution, Guardion, is tailored for urban and critical facilities and is even used by the German Armed Forces to defend against UASs. [28] THALES's EagleSHIELD serves military bases and public events, while MARSS's NiDAR system protects naval assets with advanced surveillance. [29] These newer, nimble companies provide off-the-shelf solutions, meeting the needs of both military and private sectors without the complexity and cost of military-grade equipment. Their emphasis on non-kinetic mitigation techniques, apart from net-guns, aligns with Europe's strict regulations, showcasing a diverse product range from detection to mitigation, filling a crucial gap in the market.

Concluding remarks
As we conclude our exploration into drone detection towers and counter-UAS systems, the future is geared towards advancing these technologies. The demand for drone detection towers is expected to rise significantly, with airports, critical infrastructure, and public spaces, all seeking protection against unauthorised drone activities. Investments should pivot towards companies like Dedrone, Aartos, ESG, THALES, and MARSS, which are pioneering cost-effective and reliable off-the-shelf solutions. These newer players, with their nimble approach, are well-positioned to meet the growing market needs, providing a blend of detection and mitigation systems suitable for both military and civilian applications. As the landscape evolves, focusing on innovative, adaptable technologies will be key to staying ahead of the curve in airspace security.

European DefenceTech Hackathon 🧑‍💻

Project A supports the inaugural European DefenceTech Hackathon taking place in Munich from 28-30th of June 2024. The Hackathon is aimed at innovators at the intersection of deeptech and dual-use in Europe and will be focused on prototyping and validating ideas around defensive and life-preserving tech. Together with d3, inflection, ARX Robotics, Auterion, Entrepreneur first, Helsing, Bundeswehr University, Tytan Technologies and TUM Venture Labs, we want to bridge the gaps between technologists, the public sector, investors, and operators in dual-use and defense technology. Sign up here to participate.

News That Caught Our Attention 👀

  • From Lithuania, battlefield-tested advanced swarm technology -

  • Europe’s new political consensus: We need to make more weapons - Politico

  • 6 NATO countries planning a drone wall to counter Russia - Financial Times

  • US National Reconnaissance Office launches first batch of Spy Satellites via SpaceX - Defense One

Every week we feature a list of interesting roles in European DefenceTech start-ups and scale-ups for readers seeking their next challenge in their careers.

If you are a founder and would like to promote your open roles, please get in touch with us!

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European Resilience Tech Newsletter Team

Uwe Horstmann co-founded Project A Ventures in 2012 as General Partner and has built Project A to be a leading European early stage investor with over $1bn USD under management and having backed 100+ founders. In addition to Project A, Uwe serves as Reserve Officer in the German armed forces and advises the German Ministry of Defence in digital transformation issues.

Jack Wang is a software engineer turned product driven tech investor and joined Project A in 2021 to lead the firm’s deep tech investing, which have grown to include DefenceTech. Prior to joining Project A, Jack worked in a variety of organisations such as Amazon and Macquarie Group across Australia, US and UK / Europe. Jack holds a MBA from London Business School and Bachelors of Engineering (Bioinformatics, 1st) from UNSW, Australia.

Jannic Meyer joined Project A initially contributing to what is now known as the Project A Studio, partnering with founders at the pre-idea stage, where he covered a variety of topics ranging from energy infrastructure to dual-use robotics and led our investment in ARX Robotics. He is now part of the investment team at Project A covering all things resilience.

Project A Ventures is one of the leading early-stage tech investors in Europe with offices in Berlin and London. In addition to 1 billion USD assets under management, Project A supports its 100+ portfolio companies with a platform team over 140 functional experts in key areas such as software and product development, business intelligence, brand, design, marketing, sales and recruiting. Project A have backed founders of Trade Republic, WorldRemit, Sennder, KRY, Spryker, Catawiki, Unmind and Voi as well as founders building in European Resilience: