Several militaries and a number of defense contractors are investing in AR technologies. Militaries are increasing expenditure in this sector to procure and utilise advanced technology. The aerospace and defense industry is well placed to use this technology, and in some cases is already using it for maintenance purposes.

Aerospace and defense trends

Listed below are the key aerospace and defence trends impacting the AR industry, as identified by GlobalData.

Platform and system design

Engineers and designers from the aerospace and defence industry have realised the potential of AR for the early conception stage of platforms and systems. The ability to build new equipment with the use of AR will significantly speed up the process of prototyping and development. NASA is utilising AR technology developed by Lockheed Martin to speed up the construction of the Orion spacecraft. Engineers can also explore and resolve existing technical problems more efficiently using AR technology, while headsets can be considered for individual use by designers working on a project.

Engineering support

Human failures will always exist, but companies are still wary of relying entirely on automation on the assembly line and when it comes to checks and maintenance. AR devices have the advantage to combine the reliability of computers with the human factor. Boeing is providing AR glasses to its technicians as a means to assist them during the conception phase and for routine maintenance of aircraft. It is too early to assess the actual positive effect of AR devices on the assembly line efficiency and maintenance quality. But the increasingly affordable cost of AR technologies suggests that such trials will continue.


AR has significant applications in training and can be utilised to create low-risk effective training missions, especially for pilots. The potential for creating safe training environments for pilots will be a lucrative one, as militaries seek to develop training in a variety of scenarios without putting members at risk. VR has drawbacks in that the environment is completely simulated, whilst AR can provide a real environment where only the threats are simulated.


The combined advances of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and AR technologies will open new options for military reconnaissance techniques. It is now technically possible to send a cheap drone to recognise a contested zone in order to quickly gather intelligence, send back the information to the controller, and reconstitute a 3D map of the terrain. This can provide live information about the environment, alongside the location of friendly forces to military commanders.


Covid-19 will have the effect of creating more demand for virtual training, as forces are disparate and less likely to train together. AR will become increasingly in demand as a mechanism to facilitate effective training. The other effect it will have is the tightening of military budgets, and AR has significant application as a cost-saving method, allowing training exercises to be conducted cheaply and safely.


As more technology is integrated into military operations higher levels of cybersecurity will be needed. Militaries are already working on updating systems to communicate more effectively and have higher levels of security, and this requirement will increase as they rely more on AR-driven data.

This is an edited extract from the Augmented Reality in Aerospace and Defense – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.