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Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Aerospace and Defense – Thematic Research

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are rapidly evolving and are of paramount importance for the defense industry. Those who become leaders in its adoption will benefit immensely. AI technology could make military operations more efficient, accurate and powerful, while also offering long-term cost-cutting potential. The future of war looks like an AI-assisted one, where human and machine work together, with AI conducting specific tasks more effectively than a person ever could.

The impact of AI in defense is enormous. Those looking to get ahead must recognize not only the benefits it will bring, but the challenges it will create, and perhaps more importantly, how to adapt to overcome these challenges. As AI in defense increases, so does the number of ethical questions, particularly around autonomous weapon systems. Additionally, the complexity of the defense acquisition process is a deterrent for some commercial companies to partner with governments, and cooperation on both sides is vital for technology procurement.

Both the Chinese and Russian governments have detailed their plans to dominate AI, and AI's rapid progress makes it a powerful tool from economic, political, and military standpoints. As with any military technology, the prospect of falling behind may put those who do not recognize the potential that AI offers at a clear disadvantage. Finding the right structural shift to accelerate AI adoption is crucial for governments.

Using the information in this report, you can formulate an AI strategy for your business.


Briefings on AI’s seven most important technologies: machine learning, data science, conversational platforms, computer vision, AI chips, smart robots, and context-aware computing.

Analysis of how different AI technologies can be used to help overcome current challenges facing the defense industry, along with the challenges posed by the integration of AI within defense.

An assessmentof the impact that AI is having, and will have, on the defense industry for both OEMs and militaries.

Case studies, analyzing sector-specific applications of AI within defense, including information on the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), an organization responsible for harnessing the “transformative potential of AI technology for the benefit of America's national security.”

Company profiles of the leading adopters and specialist vendors of AI in defense and their competitive position within the AI landscape.

GlobalData’s thematic sector scorecard ranking the activity of defense companies in AI and other vital themes disrupting their industry. This is informed by GlobalData’s comprehensive tracking of AI-related deals, job openings, patent ownership, company news, financial and marketing statements.

Key Highlights

Potential AI applications in the defense industry are numerous and appealing. AI is not only about speed but also the precision and efficiency of military decision-making. It's a race to develop, procure and field AI solutions faster than the competition.

AI will play an integral role both on and off the battlefield. Applications range from autonomous weapons, drone swarms and manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), to other functions such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), logistics and cyber operations.

The amount of information being created by modern militaries is often referred to as a data deluge. The problem is significant, vexing, and, given the current pace of acceleration, technologically intimidating. AI-assisted intelligence analysis can help to ease this pressure, by accurately analyzing and proving insights from the information contained within large datasets.

AI integration is an ethical and cultural challenge. From a humanitarian standpoint, the ethical issues raised by the prospect of killer robots are numerous. Conversely, there seems to be a cultural divide between commercial companies and governments, slowing the rate of AI adoption.

Reasons to Buy

Prioritize investments in the various areas of AI, which will deliver the best results for your business. We provide recommendations on which areas of the value chain you should focus on and highlight the parts you can confidently ignore.

Benchmark your company against 79 other companies in the defense industry in terms of how prepared each business is for AI adoption. An independent view of how companies rank against competitors predicts the success of defense companies in the next 2-5 years.

Efficiently source specialist AI vendors in defense and potential partners by accessing information on over 20 companies including SparkCognition, Palantir, and Cylance.

Formulate marketing messages that resonate with buyers in the defense industry by identifying the key challenges that the industry faces and understanding how AI is impacting the industry.

Key Players

BAE Systems, Boeing, Elbit Systems, Israeli Aerospace Industry (IAI), L3Harris Technologies, Leidos, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Raytheon Technologies. Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Cambricon, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, Tencent. Adarga, Atlas Elektronik, Cylance, FLIR Systems, Palantir, Percepto, Rebellion Defense, Shield AI, SparkCognition, Veloxiti.

Table of Contents

Executive summary

AI value chain

Machine learning

Data science

Conversational platforms

Computer vision

AI chips

Smart robots

Context-aware computing

Defense challenges

The impact of AI on defense

Case studies

Market size and growth forecasts

Mergers and acquisitions

AI timeline


Leading AI adopters in defense

Leading AI vendors

Specialist AI vendors in defense

Sector scorecard

Defense sector scorecard


Further reading

Our thematic research methodology

About GlobalData

Contact Us

List of Tables

Challenges to defense companies


Leading AI adopters in defense

Leading AI vendors in defense

Specialist AI vendors in defense


Further Reading

List of Figures

Key players in AI value chain

AI value chain

Big tech is dominating ML

ML: leaders and disruptors

Data science: leaders and disruptors

A timeline of the leading virtual assistants

The enterprise landscape looks different from the consumer one

Conversational platforms: leaders and disruptors

Computer vision: leaders and disruptors

Context-aware computing: leaders and disruptors

There are several types of AI chips

AI chips: leaders and disruptors

smart-robots: leaders and disruptors

Trend analysis of leading AI influencers in the defense industry

Thematic impact assessment

Global AI platform revenue will reach $52bn by 2024, up from $28bn in 2019

The total number AI patents in defense has risen from 6,457 in 2015 to 37,283 in 2020

The AI story, Defense sector scorecard

Thematic Screen

Valuation Screen


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