Surface Warships Market: Significant Technologies

Surface Warships Market - Inkwood Research

Surface warships are the core of all leading navies globally and are responsible for a vast range of roles from air defense to anti-submarine warfare. According to Inkwood Research, the global surface warships market is set to register a CAGR of 2.88% during the forecast period, 2022-2030. The key growth drivers evaluated are fleet modernization programs and significant investments in indigenous programs prioritizing naval developments.

For instance, as per the September 2022 Congressional Research Service Report, the US Navy awarded an $11,320,904 firm-fixed-price modification to the previously granted contract N00024-20-C-6320 to Lockheed Martin Corp for continued studies of large unmanned surface vessels.

Today, the most powerful surface warship classes are cruisers and destroyers. Also, among the new technologies, the prominent ones setting world standards are multirole vertical launch systems, dual-band radars, stealth hulls, and sophisticated munition types like a hypersonic cruise or sea-skimming missiles. In addition, modern vertical launch systems have played a central role in enabling ships to deploy more firepower, employ multiple missile types, and enhance their versatility.

Surface Warships Market: Significant Technologies

The rising complexities of operations in the maritime area are leading to fresh challenges, forcing the naval forces worldwide to revamp their operations.

Accordingly, the growing focus on Operations Other Than War (OOTW), wherein the dwindling probability of direct naval combat between enemy nations is evaluated to be low, and the conflicting demands due to increasing costs of modern weapons, have resulted in a few key technologies playing a central role in the modern maritime area:

  • Unmanned Surface Vessels: Drones of the Sea

Artificial intelligence and autonomous technologies are increasingly finding applications in the military, and are expected to don important roles in future warfare. Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) are water-borne structures designed for operations without human controllers and are connected to individual craft. They are used as tactical weapons for defensive operations like patrolling and minesweeping. They can either be controlled from a ship facilitating additional flexibility and reaction to the fleet, or from the shore for coastal protection. The personnel use data and video links to give executive decisions, similar to contemporary unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) working mechanisms.

However, the disruptive technologies integrated into conventional surface ship systems are mission command and control systems and the ‘drone-like’ onboard systems controlling navigation and other systems. The key advantages include lower costs, continual deployment in adverse conditions, and safety in dangerous situations. For instance, ‘Protector‘ by Rafael is one such operational USV used widely for protection and patrolling activities by the navies.

  • Stealth Technology

Stealth technology, also known as low observable technology (LO technology), is a specialized area of defensive & offensive electronic countermeasures and military operations that covers techniques used to make satellites, warheads, warships, ships, land vehicles, etc. While designing a ship with a reduced radar signature, the critical concerns regarding warships and anti-ship missiles with active radar seekers are radar beams.

Further, stealth technology construction techniques help build a ship difficult to detect by one or more sonar, visual, radar, and infrared methods. Accordingly, the shape of stealth ships avoids vertical surfaces. In addition, the techniques to minimize reflections include the elimination of cavities and round surfaces like funnels and turrets. The hull shapes include Small Waterplane Area Twin Hulls (SWATH) that enable better stability when using a tumblehome hull. The USS Zumwalt is a ‘stealth’ advanced surface warship inducted into the US Navy in October 2016.

According to our analysis, weapon systems are the largest revenue-generating component, estimated to project a market share of 28.44% by 2030.

  • Active Decoy

The next generation decoys used by surface warships and combatants will have an active element to raise the efficiency of the decoys and manifold the chances of survival of the platform. For instance, Rafael’sTorbuster’ can neutralize the torpedo during its run, eliminating the need to fire multiple decoys. Whereas ADC MK 2 is a battery-powered expendable sonar countermeasure for use by surface warships and submarines. It hovers vertically at a pre-selected depth when deployed using a pressure-controlled motor driving a small shrouded propeller in the decoy’s tail and emitting an acoustic signal to deceive incoming torpedoes.

As per our estimates, aircraft carriers are set to project the highest CAGR of 4.73% by 2030 in the global surface warships market by vessel type.

Surface Warships Market: Future Scope

Naval shipbuilding is a costly affair in spite of efficient management. The warships cost more than a billion each. Whereas unmanned warships cost lesser (a small fraction) than that to produce and operate. According to a Forbes article, the US Navy is developing almost a dozen unmanned sea vehicles for maritime security operations. Some operate on the ocean’s surface, while some operate beneath it. Some are as large as torpedoes and need to be launched by larger vessels, while others are robotic, autonomous warships.

However, unmanned sea systems are not a new endeavor for the Navy. With the Office of Naval Research recognizing their potential decades ago, they have been used in mine countermeasures over the years. In addition, the defense department has been experimenting with an unmanned, transoceanic surface warship, Sea Hunter, by Leidos. Besides, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence are extending the scope for robotic operations at sea, with unmanned vehicles becoming a high-priority development area alongside extended-range fires and digital networking. Such developments and technological advancements are expected to propel the global surface warships market growth in the coming years.

By Akhil Nair


Which are the key companies in the global surface warships market?

Thales Group, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Naval Group, etc., are among the key companies in the global surface warships market.

Which is the fastest-growing operation segment in the global surface warships market?

Surveillance & Intelligence is the fastest-growing operation segment in the global surface warships market.