The market for soldier modernisation programmes will be worth US$804.2 million this year, according to a new report, up from an estimated US$713 million last year.
Militaries around the world are investing in soldier modernisation programmes with the aim of ensuring dismounted infantry are both operationally effective and fully integrated into the modern, digital, battlefield, the Visgiongain report notes.
The author of The Soldier Modernisation Market 2012-2022 report commented that, “soldier modernisation programmes and products are increasingly prevalent, with some large scale deployment of equipment suites already in progress. Whilst programmes at present are largely confined to NATO member states, by the end of the decade ambitious soldier modernisation programmes embarked upon by the likes of China, India and Russia will be well underway. This will result in a fast-growing, dynamic and truly global market with manifold opportunities for investors.”
Visiongain calculated that in 2011 the global market for soldier modernisation was worth US$713 million while in 2010 it was worth US$546 million.
The soldier modernisation market is currently dominated by programmes being pursued by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) member states, many of which are also engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan. Visiongain said that nations such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Canada will increase expenditure on soldier modernisation equipment until around the middle of the decade. This increase will be driven by the concurrent demands of deployment in Afghanistan and the schedules of soldier modernisation programmes (SMP).
With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the completion of the preliminary stages of many SMPs, Visiongain said spending on soldier modernisation equipment by major NATO member states will shrink. Moreover, the incremental approaches that these nations are likely to implement concerning soldier modernisation will mean that spending on soldier modernisation equipment will remain at these lower levels for several years thereafter. Standardisation of equipment and the increasing demand for commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment will limit increases in spending.
In terms of new technology, Visiongain said that efforts will largely be directed at minimising size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements. Since soldiers are carrying ever increasing loads, it is imperative that the weight of equipment is reduced to avoid musculoskeletal damage. Moreover, the power requirements of many devices add to this weight, by increasing the number of batteries that the soldier is required to carry. Portable charging systems, fuel cells, integrated power supplies and solar panels are likely to be in demand in order to sustain the operation of electronic devices.
Moreover, among NATO countries there will be a demand for increased interoperability between systems. The budgetary pressure that has led France and the UK to commit to increased co-operation is likely to yield further such pacts. The challenge of networking systems based on different hardware and software will have to be met, if the advantages of such international cooperation are to be realised.
Outside of NATO and developed countries, emerging superpowers such as China and India are striving to modernise their armed forces. The latter is hoping to have fielded soldier modernisation equipment to considerable portions of its army by 2020, an ambitious goal. Furthermore, Russia has committed to large increases in defence expenditure, and the lessons of the 2008 Georgian War serve to illustrate the deficiencies of her armed forces.