Armor has been an integral & strategic element of the force structure of land forces globally since the first realizations, development & advent of Tanks for combat in World War I which followed rapid further developments & subsequent extensive utilization in the World War II. Armor’s role in providing mobility, troop protection and lethal firepower was further underscored & demonstrated effectively across the Iraq & Afghanistan war theatres over the first decade of the present century during the allied war operations which witnessed a generational change in threat landscape underscored by the extensive utilization of IEDs, RPGs & ATGMs while combating asymmetric warfare tactics with battlefield boundaries being nebulous at best and non-existent at the worst. The operations drove home the stark realization with respect to the limitations & inability of legacy armor to withstand & match up to modern threat landscape while facing a non-state, much less competent adversary. The realization, coupled with evolution of the global geo-political dynamics & equations, have already triggered an armor modernization drive in the overdrive mode across most traditional & emerging markets.
The emerging global market scenario for armored vehicles, thus, is poised to witness a spurt in demand over near to medium term driven by a number of drivers & favorable factors, which include resurgence of conventional state based threats, political instability & ongoing conflict across some regions, a wearing down of the general world order and growing threat from extremism & terrorism. Additionally, technological evolution in the form of development of next generation technologies along with the advent of third generation MBTs & other vehicle platforms featuring significantly enhanced capabilities as well as expansion of operational spectrum, capabilities, level of protection & performance threshold are likely to be the other key demand drivers for armored vehicles over near to medium term.
In the North American market, the rolling out of some key, big ticket scratch up and upgrade programs as of late has already upped the ante for the industry which is gearing up for an upswing after a brief hiatus with the U.S. Army planning a rapid as well as comprehensive upgrade & modernization of its combat vehicle platforms aimed at regaining its technology led overmatch over adversaries having gained useful, practical insights from a decade of actual combat experiences from its war operations with respect to doctrine, strategy as well as capabilities of core assets while facing significant readiness challenges for its BCTs and with a compelling case at hand with respect to Russian resurgence on the world arena altering geopolitical dynamics and threatening NATO allies with its new found military muscle.
The European scenario is no different with the traditional armor stronghold facing a hectic pace of activities with the looming, credulous Russian threat backed by third generation armor as well as related technological advances and increasing Russian activities in Eastern Europe & the Baltics having already driven a significant increase in defense spending across a number of states based in Northern as well as Central Europe, in addition, to the Baltics with a significant focus & emphasis being placed on land forces and armor given the geographic location and proximity of these states to Russia. A number of large, big ticket defense modernization & replacement programs have already been initiated, announced or are in the pipeline stage across a number of European states aimed at replacement of ageing, cold war legacy armor, led by the U.K., France, Poland & a number of other European states. Impending upgrades to traditional heavyweight armor centerpieces, including the Challenger 2 & Leclerc MBTs, too, which had been impending for a long time, are also on the anvil and about to be rolled out now along with a number of new IFV & APC procurement programs being initiated. The numbers are likely to go up further over near to medium term with the NATO’s defense spending mandate compliance likely to become a key point of contention.
The Global outlook for armored vehicles over medium term, thus, is bright & promising with the presence of a number of long term demand & growth drivers in the form of ageing existing hardware, strong external threat perception amid evolving geo-political dynamics and availability of next generation technologies, most notably the introduction of third generation MBTs, driving manifold increase in capabilities, mobility, protection and firepower. These strategic factors have collectively driven & are likely to continue to drive significant investments towards land systems with the initiation of a number of new, active as well as planned procurement programs for armored vehicle across most traditional & emerging markets.