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Gyroscopes and IMUs for Defense, Aerospace & Industrial

This publication has been discontinued on June 21, 2014.

Multiple technology changes are fueling booming market growth


Inertial Measurements Units (IMUs) is a large industry traditionally dominated by defense and aerospace applications. 2011 was a stable year for IMUs with a market size of $1.75B.

We expect more dynamic growth in this market near term because of two factors:

  • In the defense and aerospace sectors: though the markets in the U.S. and Europe are best described as conservative and mature, many new programs are being launched in Asia, Brazil, and the Middle East.
  • Many new applications are fueling the growth of the IMU market, benefiting from significant technology evolutions, such as the continuous improvement of MEMS IMUs.

The IMU market is very concentrated; only a few big companies are dominant. Honeywell, Northrop Grumman and Sagem are the clear leaders, but many newcomers are coming in to play, looking to enter the market with low-cost MEMS-based products and a different approach to how things are done.

2011 IMU market share (M$)
(Total = $1.75B )

Yole Développement© Aug. 2012


High-performance inertial sensors and systems is a dynamic market segment, as an ever-increasing number of platforms require stabilization, guidance or navigation functions. The 2011 market for high-performance gyroscopes was estimated at $1.29B, growing at a 4.3% annual rate, and is expected to reach $1.66B in 2017.

However, this growth will not be global. Indeed, the most attractive opportunities will be concentrated in a select few applications, geographies or technologies:

  • Defense applications still account for half of the market and most players expect this to remain about the same, as budget cuts made in the U.S. and Europe will be partially compensated by strong demand in Asia.
  • Commercial aerospace represents close to 25% of the market. After a period of stability, an increasing number of business jet, helicopter and civil aircraft orders will drive renewed inertial systems growth, starting in 2013.
  • The remainder of the market (composed primarily of industrial, naval and offshore applications) will be the most dynamic area. While it will take time to adopt new technol-ogies in the more conservative areas, new industrial applications are appearing with each passing day, benefiting from the increasing availability of low-cost inertial solutions.

2010-2017 Gyro Market ($M)

Yole Développement© Aug. 2012

This report describes in detail each application in terms of market size, competitive analysis, technical requirements, technology trends and business drivers.


Currently, optical gyroscope technologies still dominate the market by a wide margin. In particular, Ring Laser Gyroscopes (RLGs) are largely used in navigation systems and tactical guidance; one example is the Honeywell HG1700 IMU.

Although RLGs will be robust for high-performance, Yole Développement expects two other technologies to make a large contribution to 2011-2017 growth: Fiber Optic Gyroscopes (FOGs), which are currently very popular for stabilization applications, and should rapidly progress to eventually replace other navigation technologies; and MEMS technology, which will have the largest impact on the industry.

2011 Gyro Market ($M) - Techno breakdown
(Total = $1289M)

Yole Développement© Aug. 2012

New applications are enabled by low-cost MEMS sensors, and when it comes to tactical grade applications, a lot of progress has been achieved in just the past few years in terms of reliability. MEMS are now accepted in high-reliability environments, and are even starting to replace FOGs and other technologies in tactical applications. Of course, other technologies must be considered as well: Hemispheric Resonant Gyroscopes (HRGs) are making progress and are now designed for navigation; Coriolis vibrating piezo gyroscopes are finding increasing success in a large variety of end-markets while new disruptive gyro technologies are still in lab-phase; and finally, DTG and other mechanical gyro technologies are still used in some retrofit systems for 2-axis stabilization systems or for gyrocompass, but this trend points to a decline.

Many factors are shaping tomorrow's competitive landscape: technology capabilities, products' maturity level, geography, value chain, and others. As such, competition trends are carefully analyzed in this report. Honeywell is still the global leader by far, with great success in RLG-based systems and successful deployment of MEMS technology. Northrop Grumman, Sagem and other market leaders are next on the list with a variety of technologies and new product lines that should have big market impact. Newcomers will play a role as well, from startup companies developing disruptive sensors, to MEMS manufacturers, IMU integrators and large end-users willing to pursue internal inertial technologies.

This report highlights market share analysis by application field and technology, as well as global company shipments and technology breakdown.



  • Topic: Gyroscopes, Accelerometers, IMUs
  • Gyroscope technologies: Si/Quartz MEMS, FOG, RLG, DTG, other mechanical/vibrating gyros, HRG & emerging high-perf technologies
  • Accelerometer technologies: MEMS, Electromechanical, piezo & others
  • 26 applications analyzed:
    • 8 Industrial / Medical / Commercial Naval / Offshore segments
    • 6 Commercial Aerospace segments
    • 12 Defense segments
  • Historic data and forecasts - worldwide market metrics: 2010 - 2017 ($M, M units, ASP)
  • 2011 market share and company shipments
  • Performance level: industrial, tactical, short-term navigation, high-end navigation and strategic grade
  • 300+ sensor manufacturer and integrator companies are quoted in this report
  • Report is a PowerPoint presentation consisting of more than 280 slides
  • Includes Excel spreadsheets with main market data


This report is the third update of Yole's best-selling “IMU Markets” report, which was first released in 2008. This latest edition is a completely new version, with substantial changes since the last edition:

  • The scope of study is broader: stand-alone gyroscopes and assemblies of 2 or 3-axis gyroscopes are accounted for in the market numbers
  • The market is quantified for each gyroscope technology, and each company's yearly shipments are estimated
  • Market metrics are provided for each grade of gyroscopes: each application is positioned according to performance level and corresponding market size
  • Applications are described in a more synthetic way in order to provide rapid access to key information (functions, specification, technical solution, geography, trends, and market evolution) and graphical representation of the industrial chain

This report combines the best of Yole's knowledge in the high-performance inertial sensor industry. Yole regularly participates in industry conferences and tradeshows worldwide, and has close relations with most market leaders. This report's data has been validated by industry experts and augmented by the expertise of Mike Perlmutter, a recognized expert in navigation. With a totally different format than before, this report synthetizes the status of the 2012 inertial sensor industry in a thorough and completely new way.


Al Cielo, Analog Devices, AOSense, Arazim, Astrium, Autoflug, CASC China Aerospace, Colibrys, Doosan, Elektropribor, Emcore, Endevco, Epson Toyocom, Fitzoptika, Freescale, Garmin, GEM Electronica, Gladiator Technologies, Goodrich/AIS, Hitachi, Honeywell, IAI, iMAR, Innalabs, InterSense, InvenSense, iXBlue, JAE, Kearfott, Kongsberg, KVH, L3 Communication, Litef, Lumedyne Technologies, MEMSense, Microstrain, Moog/Crossbow, NG Italia, Northrop Grumman, Optolink, PCB Piezo, Perm, Physical Logic, Raytheon Anschutz, Sagem, SBG Systems, Schlumberger, Senlution, Sensonor, Sensorex, Silicon Design, Silicon Sensing System, STM, Systron Donner Inertial, Tamagawa, Teknol, Thales, Tokyo Keiki, Tronics, VectorNav, VTI, Watson Instruments, Xsens.....


Laurent Robin (author of the report) is in charge of the MEMS & Sensors market research at Yole Développement with a focus on inertial sensors & RF MEMS related technologies. He holds a Physics Engineering degree from the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse, plus a Master Degree in Technology & Innovation Management from EM Lyon Business School, France.

Mike Perlmutter (contributor) has worked in the inertial navigation field for over 30 years. He was director of strategy and planning at Northrop Grumman until 2007 when he established Skylight Navigation consulting company. At the start of 2012 he co-founded Civitanavi Systems, working on inertial navigation systems for marine navigation, surveying and defense applications. Mike has published papers, chaired conference sessions, given talks and authored 17 patents on inertial sensors, GPS and navigation technology.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Definitions & Methodology

Executive Summary

2010-2017 Market and Competition Overview

  • Global 2010-2017 gyroscope market
  • Gyroscope market evolution by sensor grade (value & unit)
  • Gyroscope market evolution by application category (value & unit)
  • Gyroscope market evolution by level of integration (value & unit)
  • Gyroscope market evolution by geography Gyroscope 2011 market share (value & volume) and competitive trends
  • Accelerometer market evolution by application (value & unit)
  • Accelerometer market evolution by level of integration (value & unit)
  • Global 2010-2017 IMU market (value & unit)
  • IMU 2011 market share (value)

Industrial / Medical / Naval / Offshore Applications

  • Overview: key specifications, market breakdown and market share
  • Application description, trends, geographic breakdown, value chain and market evolution (value & volume) for: Stabilization systems / GPS aiding - Mobile mapping / Commercial ship navigation - gyrocompass / ROVs - AUVs navigation for offshore / First responder systems / Drilling (for oil, gas and mining survey) / Motion Capture - Life science / Other commercial applications

Commercial Aerospace Applications

  • Overview: key specifications, market breakdown and market share
  • Application description, trends, geographic breakdown, value chain and market evolution (value & volume) for: Civil aircraft navigation / AHRS for general aviation / backup instrument / Flight control for civil helicopters and aircraft / Flight control - navigation for civil & paramilitary UAVs / Space satellites, spacecraft & skyrockets / Other commercial aerospace applications

Defense Applications

  • Overview: key specifications, market breakdown and market share
  • Application description, trends, geographic breakdown, value chain and market evolution (value & volume) for:
    • Platform stabilization (RCWS, turrets, guns, gimbals, etc.) / Missile guidance / Guided munitions - Bombs
    • Gyrocompass (ships, artillery, etc.) / Military helicopter navigation - stabilization / Military fighter navigation and flight control / Military transport aircraft / Defense UAV & UGV navigation - control / Armored vehicle navigation / Combat ship navigation / Strategic applications (submarine, ballistic missiles, specific space missions, etc.) / Other defense applications

Gyroscope Technologies

  • Technology classification and performance trends
  • 2010-2017 technology evolution (value & volume)
  • Technology evolution per gyro grade
  • 1990-2020 pricing evolution by technology

Silicon/Quartz MEMS Gyroscopes

  • MEMS gyro classification, principles and latest trends
  • MEMS gyros: industrial chain, cost structure, pricing trends, market share and production level by competitor

Fiber Optic Gyroscopes (FOG)

  • FOG classification, principles and latest trends
  • FOG: industrial chain, cost structure, pricing trends, market share and production level by competitor

Ring Laser Gyroscopes (RLG)

  • RLG classification, principles and latest trends
  • RLG: industrial chain, cost structure, pricing trends, market share and production level by competitor

DTG & other Mechanical, Vibrating Piezo Gyroscopes

  • DTG & other mechanical, vibrating piezo gyroscopes: classification, principles and latest trends
  • DTG & other mechanical, vibrating piezo gyroscopes: industrial chain, cost structure, pricing trends, market share and production level by competitor

HRG and Emerging Gyro Technologies

Accelerometer Technologies

  • Technology classification, principles and latest trends
  • 2011 technology breakdown
  • MEMS accelerometer market share

Conclusion and Perspectives

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