Many soldier modernisation programmes have been delayed or reduced in scope due to budgetary pressures and technology issues. Despite such obstacles, there still exists significant growth opportunities, particularly in many untapped European and Asian programmes, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The genesis of soldier modernisation programmes began in the early 1990s when military forces sensed the need to reposition their capabilities to counter modern-day threats. Asymmetric and urban warfare were identified as future threats and countries started conceptualising the future soldier in accordance with these trends. However, most countries felt that these planned programmes were too ambitious and difficult to manage.
In Frost & Sullivan’s report, “Global Soldier Modernisation Market Assessment”, the company finds that the total market revenue is likely to be US$12.73 billion across the forecast period 2011-2020. It is estimated that the soldier modernisation market will grow from US$420.2 million in 2011 to US$1.54 billion in 2020.
“Countries are aiming for ultra-professional armed forces and, as a result, troop strength is being reduced in most countries,” notes Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Mahendran Arjunraja. “Decreasing troop numbers will have an impact on procurement volumes, limiting the opportunity for volume business.”
Decreasing troop size is poised to limit the potential for economies of scale. But it would open up opportunities for premium solutions.
The recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have influenced soldier modernisation plans. With operational withdrawal, most countries are expected to focus on planned procurement programmes.
Market revenues are set to peak in 2015, when the market grows to be worth US$1830.5 million and such trends are anticipated to sustain till 2017. This is largely a result of major programmes entering the production phase.
“Upcoming soldier modernisation programmes in India, South Korea, and Brazil are in their initial stages,” remarks Arjunraja. “Significant spending is expected only in the second half of the forecast period.”
Frost & Sullivan has identified three different modernisation approaches: total system (a defined programme where modern equipment is acquired as a single kit), incremental (soldier modernisation is conducted in phases), and hybrid (a mix of both total and incremental approaches). The total system approach is being adopted by a few European countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Italy while others have shown a preference for the incremental or hybrid approach.
“Technology issues such as power and weight continue to be key technical challenges and are prolonging modernisation programmes,” concludes Arjunraja. “Incremental and hybrid acquisition approaches are the most preferred models and directly impact the value chain of programmes.”