Paris, Montreal and Washington DC: According to Euroconsult”s newly released research report, ‘Earth Observation: Defense and Security’, demand for data to support imagery intelligence (IMINT) continues to grow globally to support defense activities and military operations. However, as a result of the relatively high cost to maintain and launch EO defense satellites and the investment required to fund R&D, only 11 countries have developed EO defense capacity dedicated to supporting IMINT.
“Since only a few countries operate proprietary high-resolution satellites, the commercial sector is expected to make up a significant part of future demand for IMINT,” said Adam Keith, Director of Space and Earth Observation at Euroconsult.
In 2012, 77% ($990 million) of the total $1.5 billion EO commercial data market was attributed to defense customers, realising a CAGR of 20% over the last five years. Of this $990 million, close to 50% is attributable to the US government, which, through the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), represents the first customer of commercial EO data. The increased level of procurement by the NGA drove growth in the overall commercial data market from 2006 to 2010. However, following the award of Enhanced View contracts to US operators and data providers (DigitalGlobe and GeoEye) in 2010, demand stabilised, and indeed, US procurement is expected to drop in 2013, with Enhanced View impacted by austerity measures within the broader US government, prompting the merger of the two companies.
Growth in the commercial data sector is now being driven by wider global sales to defense users, particularly by countries with high IMINT requirements and limited viable proprietary solutions. In order to meet these needs, commercial operators are finding success in providing direct access contracts to end-users, providing secure imagery access to defense clients. With continued high demand, revenues from commercial data sales to defense are expected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2022.