UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) came of age during the current Afghanistan war. In both ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) and attack roles, they have proven their tactical and strategic value in multiple theatres of operation. Continuously improving capabilities in persistence (loitering), sensors, data processing and communications have broadened ISR UAV use over land in both defense/intelligence and civil roles. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service report, "Maritime Surveillance Expanding Electronic Systems Opportunity from UAVs," predicts new emerging market opportunities specifically for coastal (littoral) and open ocean maritime surveillance roles.

Maritime surveillance UAV or MSUAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are finding a variety of both strategic and tactical uses and varied security issues. Examples include monitoring for illegal immigration and terrorism, piracy, oil shipping, sovereignty claims and determining the protection of off-shore assets.

Some examples of strategic and tactical MSUAV platforms include the Guardian, MANTIS, Global Hawk MQ-4C BAMS, ScanEagle, A160 Hummingbird and Skeldar V-200.

As maritime surveillance becomes increasingly pervasive in military/defense and civil roles, aerospace and defense companies seeking new markets will find opportunities with nations that have vulnerable coastlines and/or strategic maritime responsibilities. The continued development of systems specifically for coastal (littoral) and open ocean maritime surveillance roles will also maintain an emphasis on advanced electronic systems (sensors, communications, and data processing) coupled with a shift toward data fusion across multiple platforms and a move toward network-centric capabilities.