Manufacturers will produce 200 000 anti-armour missiles worth $9.7 billion through 2022, according to a new report by Forecast International.
The company said that combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have spurred anti-armou purchases by the U.S. and other militaries. Ironically, these missiles are not engaging tanks, but rather a host of other target types – from terrorist hideouts to unarmoured pickup trucks. Established market players have benefitted from this evolving trend, according to Forecast International.
“U.S. and Israeli firms still have the largest share of the anti-armour missile market,” said Larry Dickerson, Forecast International’s senior missile analyst. During this period, “Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Rafael will earn $2.8 billion selling anti-armour missiles to customers worldwide,” Dickerson said.
The market positions of these manufacturers have become increasingly intertwined. For example, Lockheed Martin has cooperated with Raytheon in the development and production – and marketing – of the FGM-148 Javelin man-portable anti armour missile system. The Javelin is the U.S. Department of Defence’s standard man-portable anti-tank guided weapon, and nearly a dozen nations employ it.
The Pentagon is interested in a more capable Javelin, the so-called Javelin ER, which would offer greater range than the original version and possibly some guidance enhancements and better performance against targets other than armored vehicle targets (e.g., bunkers and other reinforced structures). However, budget issues have scaled back some programs or forced their cancellation.
The first blow to these companies came with the Pentagon’s decision to cancel the Non-Line-of-Sight-Launch System (NLOS-LS) programme, Forecast International said. The NLOS-LS programme had an estimated worth of $2 billion. The Pentagon then began backtracking on its support for the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) programme, which was aimed at replacing the AGM-114 HELLFIRE and AGM-65 Maverick. Now, JAGM has suffered the same fate as its predecessor, the Joint Common Missile (JCM). Another acronym may take over for JAGM; however, until a new missile is ready, the Pentagon will continue to purchase HELLFIREs, Mavericks, and TOWs.
Meanwhile, new systems are emerging overseas. “Europe is working on next-generation systems to win back the market share it once had,” Dickerson said. These include the Missile Moyenne Portee (MMP) and the Missile Longue Portee (MLP), which will replace MILAN and HOT, respectively.
For its part, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems is Israel’s leading anti-armour missile manufacturer. Against most expectations, Israel has slowly secured export production contracts for its anti-armour missiles and from an area once thought to present few opportunities – Europe. Rafael can count seven European countries as customers of its family of SPIKE anti-armour missiles, providing a stable production base for the company, according to Forecast International.
Companies are also working on new lightweight missiles that can perform various missions and demonstrate the blurring between different markets. “Missiles are slowly evolving, becoming more than just a weapon for use against tanks or aircraft or bunkers,” Dickerson said. “Eventually, the anti-tank missile market will cease to be an independent entity, becoming submerged in a larger strike weapons market.”