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Changing Conflict and Changing Strategies
When analysing the Global Military Land Vehicles Market 2013–2022, Frost & Sullivan has sought to elucidate future revenues split between new procurements (platform and modernisation acquisitions) and support-in-service (maintenance and other platform support services) to highlight potential market opportunities to be found beyond new platform sales alone.
When analysing the global military land vehicles market for the period 2013–2022, Frost & Sullivan has sought to elucidate future revenues split between new procurements (platform and modernisation acquisitions) and support-in-service (maintenance and other platform support services) to highlight potential market opportunities to be found beyond new platform sales alone. This takes into consideration current, planned, and anticipated procurements, vehicle fleet size, and a range of demand parameters to predict the capability requirements and procurement rates of forces around the world whilst considering the changing shape of the future strategic environment.
In many ways, factors across the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (regulatory) spectrum are changing the nature of conflict and, although the world may not have seen the end of large-scale combined-arms manoeuvre warfare, isolated pockets of civil war and cross border insurgencies, with difficult to identify adversaries melting away into the urban landscape, are ever-more common. Some governments, especially those currently implementing cost cutting measures, will opt for expeditionary strategies of up-stream capacity building and short-term overseas interventions to influence such conflicts. As such, they will seek to add a mix of light and airlift-capable vehicles to their inventory but they will still hold onto their current heavy-vehicle inventories, which they regard as a potent symbol of military power. Other governments, often in regions where conflict is at the doorstep, will need to balance a desire for procuring heavy vehicles to signify their ambition to achieve modern, advanced, military status, with increased acquisition of light, agile forces to overcome insurgency-type conflicts in difficult environments.
There are, of course, several regions where the risk of high-intensity ground conflicts could erupt but these are assessed as unlikely in the next five to ten years, barring any seismic strategic shocks. All being well, no country will need to employ ground-forces in such a conflict, but heavily-armed and heavily-armoured military vehicles continue to be sought after for modern and modernising forces alike, because this threat may never go away. This is why the Main Battle Tank (MBT), for example, although many inventories were drastically downsized in the latter half of the previous decade, will continue to feature in procurement and upgrade strategies. This is matched by a growing demand for lighter, highly-mobile armoured vehicles which can give flexibility and agility in response to overseas or internal security crises, whether the force in question is expeditionary in nature or geared for response to domestic upheaval.
The Impact of Technological Innovation
Of course, technological advancements provide manufacturers and service providers the opportunity to outmanoeuvre competitors with innovative solutions to meet shifting demands. Frost & Sullivan has previously identified key areas of technological advancement in the military land vehicles market including hybrid-propulsion systems, lightweight materials, and unmanned systems which have been taken into consideration when analysing the market for the period 2013–2022.
Some end users and suppliers are beginning to explore the possibility of alternative fuel sources and hybrid-propulsion systems to overcome energy security challenges but our research indicates that significant advancements, during the forecast period are unlikely, while fossil fuels continue to be more cost effective than developing and introducing new fuel types. Similarly, lightweight materials, a trend within the civil automotive industry, may have application in defence because the potential to overcome the ever-continuing lethality-survivability-mobility conundrum is highly attractive. Lightweight armour systems could improve protection and reduce weight in vehicles to enable them to be easily airlifted and operate in harsh and complex terrain. This will also enable vehicles to operate in areas with limited infrastructure without any compromise in lethality and survivability. Despite the obvious benefits such a breakthrough could bring, there are no signs as yet that such systems will alter the shape of the market in the next five to ten years.
Automation, on the other hand, may begin to change the market landscape quite soon. It remains to be seen if the cluttered and chaotic land environment can be navigated by unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and unmanned systems may remain limited to explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) applications, where there is a semi-controlled operating environment. There are also issues to do with concepts and doctrine, government policy, and technology capability that leave a question mark above the likelihood of UGVs becoming a significant element of military land vehicle inventories. Nevertheless, adding an automated element of technology to existing platform types could bring great benefits, including increased safety and more cost-effective products. Frost & Sullivan research indicates that a significant shift, certainly towards this kind of semi-autonomy, could occur, stimulated by advancements in the commercial sector, within five years.
The future is going to be characterised by a convergence of shifting socio-economic, socio-political, environmental, and technological factors. Fighting battles in urban environments is notoriously complex and defeating a non-state adversary in a city landscape even more so. Manoeuvre and mobility is a major challenge, as is protection. Rapidly evolving technology is enabling force modernisation around the world and breakthroughs in technology could bring about highly-advanced equipment with the potential to overcome enormous challenges. For both industry and end users, finding cost efficient and cutting-edge capability to meet shifting trends is a problem that needs deft solutions.
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