Military Aircraft Manufacturing - Statistics & Facts

The first successful military aircraft was built in the early 19th century by American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. With a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour, the manned flyer was significantly different to the jets of today that are capable of reaching maximum speeds of 1,500 miles per hour or more and require no onboard crew. In modern warfare, these unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called UAVs or drones, have become an indispensable weapon and are in great demand in many parts of the world.

As a consequence, the manufacture of such vehicles is an important driver of growth. The U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia are ranked among the leading markets for global aerospace equipment. In 2016, when sales of U.S. military aircraft will likely have reached almost 53 billion U.S. dollars, the United States held an estimated 46 percent of the market. The key contractors of military aircraft include the Airbus Group (originally known as the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, or EADS, until 2013), Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the U.S.-based company that was awarded contracts to manufacture the Global Hawk and the Euro Hawk.

As well as these prominent firms, there are several multinational consortia which are involved in the manufacture of aircraft, such as the Eurofighter, which was a jet designed and manufactured by a consortium of three companies: Airbus, BAE Systems, and Alenia Aermacchi. Furthermore, one of the largest military contracts worldwide, signed in October 2001, involved the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a project intended to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, which saw the collaboration of several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada.

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Military aircraft manufacturing - Important statistics

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