The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and satellites. 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: precision-guided firearms. 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

Precision-guided firearms is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Precision-guided firearms refer to firearms equipped with technologies that assist in ensuring accurate firing and hitting of targets. This technology typically includes a fire-control system that uses a range of sensors, processors, and control mechanisms to ensure that a projectile hits its target with precision. Precision-guided firearms offer significant advantages over traditional firearms, particularly in situations where accuracy and precision are critical, such as in military and law enforcement operations.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of precision-guided firearms.

Key players in precision-guided firearms – 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 precision-guided firearms

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NOK 1 Unlock Company Profile
AECOM 1 Unlock Company Profile
Aimpoint 13 Unlock Company Profile
Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung 1 Unlock Company Profile
Herstal 2 Unlock Company Profile
Teledyne FLIR 4 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Aerospace Industries 1 Unlock Company Profile
MBDA 4 Unlock Company Profile
SIG SAUER 5 Unlock Company Profile
Garmin 3 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 1 Unlock Company Profile
Torrey Pines Logic 14 Unlock Company Profile
Trijicon 19 Unlock Company Profile
Cubic 31 Unlock Company Profile
Electro Optic Systems 1 Unlock Company Profile
ANSYS 1 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 5 Unlock Company Profile
Optical Air Data Systems 4 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss 4 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 2 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 18 Unlock Company Profile
Teledyne Technologies 8 Unlock Company Profile
Marvell Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Nomis Searches 1 Unlock Company Profile
Instem Clinical 7 Unlock Company Profile
Asia Optical 25 Unlock Company Profile
SHELTERED WINGS 30 Unlock Company Profile
Wilcox Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile
LIGHTFORCE USA 6 Unlock Company Profile
BUSHNELL 7 Unlock Company Profile
HORUS VISION 7 Unlock Company Profile
BANC 3 2 Unlock Company Profile
PLANO MOLDING 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sofresud 8 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) 2 Unlock Company Profile
Vista Outdoor 22 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 12 Unlock Company Profile
Leupold & Stevens 35 Unlock Company Profile
Ray Dennis Group of Companies 38 Unlock Company Profile
GS Development 15 Unlock Company Profile
Burris 16 Unlock Company Profile
Vortex Optics 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hanwha Aerospace 5 Unlock Company Profile
KMW+Nexter Defense Systems 7 Unlock Company Profile
Talon Precision Optics 19 Unlock Company Profile
Huntercraft 15 Unlock Company Profile
The United States Of America 6 Unlock Company Profile
Knightwerx 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leupold & Stevens is one of the leading patent filers in precision-guided firearms. It filed patents related to real-time ballistic solutions for calculating an aiming adjustment and for indicating a subsonic threshold, rangefinders and aiming methods using projectile grouping, low-profile auto-locking pinch/turn adjustment knob, ballistic ranging methods and portable systems for inclined shooting, and locking turret knob.  

The company supplies its optical products to various entities, including the US military, law enforcement, and government agencies nationwide. Its optics are also used by the armed forces of several allied nations. The US Army has chosen one of the company’s riflescopes as a designated day optic for the Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) program.

Some other key patent filers in this space include Cubic, Vista Outdoor, and Trijicon.      

In terms of application diversity, Torrey Pines Logic, Teledyne FLIR, and Vortex Optics are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include SIG SAUER, Raytheon Technologies, and Aimpoint.

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.