The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Satellite antenna arrays.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry
Satellite antenna arrays is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence
Satellite antenna arrays are groups of antennae installed on a satellite. The combined signal is equitable to that produced by a large antenna, but the arrays are more cost-efficient to build and maintain due to their size.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of satellite antenna arrays.
Key players in satellite antenna arrays – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to satellite antenna arrays
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|ViaSat||94||Unlock company profile|
|Thales||86||Unlock company profile|
|Kymeta||41||Unlock company profile|
|Gogo||23||Unlock company profile|
|Boeing||20||Unlock company profile|
|Raytheon Technologies||18||Unlock company profile|
|Maxar Technologies||18||Unlock company profile|
|Airbus||16||Unlock company profile|
|Isotropic Systems||16||Unlock company profile|
|AST & Science||14||Unlock company profile|
|SZ DJI Technology||12||Unlock company profile|
|Northrop Grumman||11||Unlock company profile|
|Honeywell International||11||Unlock company profile|
|Huawei Investment & Holding||11||Unlock company profile|
|Toshiba||7||Unlock company profile|
|Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan||7||Unlock company profile|
|Energous||6||Unlock company profile|
|AT&T||6||Unlock company profile|
|L3Harris Technologies||6||Unlock company profile|
|Nec Toshiba Space Systems||6||Unlock company profile|
|Terra Drone||5||Unlock company profile|
|Lockheed Martin||5||Unlock company profile|
|HEICO||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
ViaSat is one of the leading patent filers in satellite antenna arrays. In 2021, ViaSat, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, successfully tested a phased antenna array. This will be able to connect to satellites, allowing terminals to communicate in a hybrid low-Earth orbit (LEO) to medium-Earth orbit (MEO) up to a geostationary (GEO) environment. ViaSat has established an antenna array that does not physically rotate to track satellites; thus, reducing moving parts liable to damage, reducing the thickness of the antenna, and delivering rapid connectivity. Some other key patent filers in the sector include Thales, Kymeta, and Gogo.
In terms of geographic reach, Huawei leads the pack. Raytheon Technologies and Kymeta stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of application diversity, Terra Drone held the top position, followed by AST & Science, ViaSat, Raytheon Technologies, and Energous Corporation.
Satellite antenna arrays have both commercial and military applications. Subsequently, patent filings aren’t limited to aerospace and defence companies.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.