The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by modernization imperatives, platform autonomy and materials science, and growing importance of technologies such as unmanned systems, counter-UAS technology, directed energy weapons and additive manufacturing. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in defense: UAV fuselage. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry

UAV fuselage is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

The fuselage of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) refers the platform’s core airframe in which are housed various subsystems and payloads required for operation. UAV designs vary widely in scope based on their applications, however most UAV fuselages will include the propulsion system, rotor assembly, landing gear, payload housing and gimbal assembly among other elements. The following patent abstracts detail specific innovations related to the construction, control, and operation of UAV fuselages.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of UAV fuselage.

Key players in UAV fuselage – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to UAV fuselage

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Chemring Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 5 Unlock Company Profile
Inventec 6 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 3 Unlock Company Profile
Daifuku 1 Unlock Company Profile
LG Display 3 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 1 Unlock Company Profile
Yanmar 1 Unlock Company Profile 8 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 1 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 44 Unlock Company Profile
Kaiser 1 Unlock Company Profile
Geotech Environmental Equipment 1 Unlock Company Profile
Industrial 1 Unlock Company Profile
Neontech 1 Unlock Company Profile
Defense Agency for Technology and Quality 1 Unlock Company Profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Lockheed Martin is one of the leading patent filers in the UAV fuselage domain, leveraging its significant expertise in airframe design and materials science to develop innovative concepts and solutions including folding and delta-wing airframes, trailing edge assemblies and secure engine housings. Some other key patent filers in this space include Textron and Chemring Group.

In terms of application diversity, Chemring Group leads the pack, while Lockheed Martin and Textron stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Lockheed Martin held the top position, followed by Chemring and Textron.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.