Missile and platform development tends to be countercyclical. Once a new aircraft is operational, attention turns to developing weapons that exploit its capabilities. With several new and upgraded aircraft and helicopters being fielded, the missile industry has entered an active phase.

This is particularly true in Europe, where weapons from portable anti-armor to air-launched cruise missiles are under study, in development or entering production, collaboratively and nationally. The U.S. has been less active in pursuing new weapons, but is picking up.

A catalyst is the fielding of stealthy combat aircraft by the U.S., and eventually its allies, and their development in Russia and China. In addition to being a more severe threat, stealth fighters place tight constraints on the number and size of weapons that can be carried internally. Many inventory munitions are too big for the weapons bays.

With the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter expected to become operational from 2015, attention is turning to developing weapons for internal carriage. These range from smaller precision-guided munitions carried in greater numbers to stealthy anti-ship and strike missiles that will enable the F-35 to engage a wider set of targets.

Examples include Lockheed’s deal with Turkey’s Rocketsan to develop the SOM-J medium-range cruise missile for the F-35. Based on Turkey’s SOM standoff missile, the weapon is to be integrated on the F-35 by 2023. Norway is funding Kongsberg’s anti-ship/land-attack Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for internal carriage by the F-35 in the same time frame.

In the U.K., MBDA is designing the Spear long-range precision strike missile, a follow-on to Brimstone 2 with multi-mode seeker and turbojet engine for a range exceeding 100 km. An F-35 would carry eight internally, but the weapon could also be fielded on the Eurofighter Typhoon. Raytheon is offering the U.K. its unpowered Small Diameter Bomb II as an alternative.

Although Europe’s latest fighters have been operational for some time, new weapons are just becoming available. MDBA’s Meteor ramjet-powered air-to-air missile is to be fully operational on the Saab Gripen in 2015, with the Typhoon and Dassault Rafale to follow. France, meanwhile, has begun studies of a nuclear cruise missile, ASN4G, to replace MBDA’s supersonic ASMP-A on Rafale.

Fielding of upgraded combat helicopters also has added impetus to weapons development. In the U.K., Thales’s Lightweight Multirole Missile is in production to arm Royal Navy AgustaWestland Lynx Wildcats. The naval helicopters will also carry MBDA’s Sea Venom surface attack missile, which will arm French navy NHIndustries NH90s as the Anti-Navire Legere.

The U.S. Army was to launch long-deferred procurement of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) by the end of 2014. JAGM will fit a new dual-mode seeker on the AGM-114R Hellfire, to arm Army Boeing AH-64E and Marine Corps Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters from 2019. Hellfire builder Lockheed plans to bid, but Raytheon might not compete. Later JAGM increments with longer range and tri-mode seeker are planned to arm Marine Corps’ F-35s.

New and upgraded warships also are driving missile developments. Also selected by Brazil and New Zealand, MBDA’s surface-to-air Sea Ceptor is in production for the Royal Navy’s Type 23 and planned Type 26 frigates and Type 45 destroyer, which already carries the Sea Viper anti-missile system. This uses MBDA’s Aster missile, also in service with France and Italy.

A long gap in U.S. activity is ending with plans to field a limited quantity of Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (Lrasm) versions of Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (Jassm) on B-1Bs in 2018 and F/A-18E/Fs in 2019. The Navy plans a competition in 2017 for its Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) requirement. This will pit a surface-launched Lrasm against the Tomahawk from Raytheon, which will also pitch Kongsberg’s JSM for air-launched needs.

The increasing value of weapons carried by new platforms will push the world missile systems market to $13.9 billion in 2019 from $12.3 billion in 2015, a total of $66.3 billion over five years, says Forecast International. At the same time, production will drop 4.6%, to some 201,500 missiles of all types in 2015-19, reflecting the high price of these systems.

The biggest slide will be in the anti-armor segment, now in transition with JAGM and France’s MBDA MMP/MLP as major new programs. U.S. manufacturers will take a 27% value share of a market worth $5.3 billion over the next five years, for a forecast 109,130 missiles, with European companies, including Russian, taking a similar share.

The anti-ship missile market will be worth $5.6 billion over the next five years, for more than 6,510 units. The largest producers are Russian and Chinese, but their export orders will be low, as Western systems are preferred. MBDA and Boeing lead the market, followed by Kongsberg and Saab. OASuW will be an opportunity for U.S. industry to regain market share. But the number of countries making anti-ship missiles keeps growing. Brazil’s Avibras-led Mansup could enter production by 2018 and Turkey’s Aselsan  is testing the Atmaca.

The long-range strike missile market will grow to $1.5 billion in 2019 from $1.2 billion in 2015 and be worth $6.6 billion over five years, with more than 19,000 missiles. Lockheed Martin will have the largest share ($1.4 billion) thanks to Jassm, with Poland joining Australia and Finland as export operators. Closest competitors will be Raytheon ($711 million), Russia’s Tactical Missiles Corp. ($600 million), and MBDA ($381 million).  

The next five years will see some 22,600 air-to-air missiles produced worth $7.8 billion, with Raytheon and MBDA taking the lead. Demand for U.S. fighters gives Raytheon a huge advantage, while the share taken by companies in China, Japan, Israel, South Africa and Taiwan will be minimal. Production will climb slightly, but the big increase will be in value, rising to $1.8 billion in 2019 from $1.3 billion in 2015.

Air-defense missile manufacture will decline over the next five years in units, but rise slightly in value, totalling 44,780 surface-to-air missiles worth about $19.1 billion through 2019.  U.S. companies Raytheon and Lockheed and Europe’s MBDA and Thales will dominate international market penetration.

Overall, the missile market is seeing more systems produced by countries outside the U.S., Europe, Russia, Israel, China and Japan. These other manufacturers will account for $8.1 billion (12%) of the market’s value through 2019, building more than 30,000 missiles. India leads this group with $2.6 billion (32%) of the total. 

A version of this article appears in the December 29, 2014/January 14, 2015 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.