Table of Contents
Global Economics will Dictate Force Protection Requirements for the Next 10 Years
This research service takes a look at the global force protection market. Short-term interventions with limited commitment of land forces are expected to be the norm for western countries. Modernisation of militaries is being reflected in strategies which emphasise the need for an increased number of light and mobile force elements. This can be seen in the kind of vehicles being procured. For other nations, the priority to spend money in this area is likely to be less, in the absence of large budgets and low public scrutiny over force protection issues. Given this scenario, the study delves into the need to improve force protection, within economic realities, while taking advantage of innovation to retain or gain strategic significance.
The need to deliver better force structures and capability within economic realities, while taking advantage of innovation to retain or gain strategic significance, is ever more urgent. In terms of force protection, this conundrum is complicated further. As modernisation increases, so too do force protection requirements because there is a need to better protect increasingly specialised troops. The ability and need to protect troops varies by region and different regions are likely to choose different methods to protect their troops.
The Global Defence Scenario
The end of the counter-insurgency (COIN) mission in Afghanistan is likely to provide welcome relief to governments in the West as they seek to reorganise their forces and avoid becoming embroiled in such conflicts for the foreseeable future. Western militaries are preparing for the post-COIN future by becoming leaner, sharper and more agile than they are. This is being reflected in strategies which emphasise the need for an increased number of light and mobile force elements. This can be seen in the type of vehicles being demanded and vehicle demand is an illustrative example of the shift towards a lighter force. Although this shift may be often described as a proactive move, in the face of changing future threat patterns, it is more about tackling conflict in a way that is economically and politically viable. Manpower-intensive, boots-on-the-ground missions are unlikely to be the preferred option of foreign policy chiefs in Western nations, once the mission in Afghanistan is complete. Consequently, it’s possible that there will be less need to employ Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) in the next 5–10 years and almost certainly no requirement to employ the super-heavy Mine-Resistant-Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles currently in use.
For the rest of the world, up-stream containment policies of the United States may be enough to prevent conflict in most cases. Consequently, there will be no immediate need to procure advanced and heavy force protection equipment, even if it is affordable to do so. Regardless of gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates and expanding defence budgets outside of austerity-hit regions, governments generally cannot afford to equip all their troops with top-end, expensive MRAP-type capability and they will probably prefer lighter, cheaper and more versatile vehicles than MBTs. As for vehicles, such as MRAPs, rather than buying the same platforms used by the United States and the United Kingdom, non-Western armies are likely to develop their own less-heavy, less-expensive versions. This also highlights the point in case that the wider force protection market is expected to focus on lighter equipment.
So, for the West, shifting to short-term interventions with limited commitment of land forces means no demand for heavily-protected behemoths, such as MRAPs, and less requirement for MBTs compared to Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles (AIFVs) and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). For other countries, security imperatives are not so demanding and growing budgets are not so big to drive demand for in-production MRAPs and vast MBT inventories. It is difficult to imagine any nation needing to deploy the same kind of MRAPs for internal security as those used by North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO in Afghanistan and it is unlikely that a high-intensity ground conflict will erupt anywhere in the next 5–10 years, in the absence of any strategic upheavals. Emerging regions may find uses for a new type of lighter MRAP, but not the super heavyweights presently used in Afghanistan. This trend is likely to be matched by a move towards lighter and more advanced protective systems across the board.
Market Segmentation and Scope
Frost & Sullivan’s market segmentation involves three categories—soldier, vehicle and base—within which products are divided by type and also end-users around the world. The map below groups countries with similar capability and the table gives examples of the equipment included in each segment.
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