The defense industry faces global challenges as it advances into the next decade of land, air and sea protection. From developing technology to brand-new business models, the market in France, Europe and the U.S. will stand witness to many interesting growth trends and increased investment amid an increasingly complicated geopolitical landscape.
The United States is expected to spend $115 billion annually on advanced air mobility alone by 2035. France, one of the leaders in global defense spending, maintains an annual military budget of $47.9 billion. Military spending in Europe reached $356 billion in 2019 and the region is seeking to gain strategic autonomy by 2025.
However, multiple setbacks, including the pandemic spending and a possible recession, might require these regions to look for cost savings solutions. Europe already faces coordination issues, with EU states showing preferences in investing domestically, often to the detriment of the different states’ ability to achieve a cohesive weapon and defense system.
France will face growth challenges in new arenas, including cyber defense and outer space. Futuristic concepts such as quantum technology, artificial intelligence systems and directed energy weapons will receive $1 billion in investments from the government and the country will also need to divert funds into infrastructure and maintenance to upkeep existing military equipment and capabilities.
The U.S., France and the whole of Europe will still move forward with solid investment in military personnel and their health. These armies, navies and air forces, needing to be efficient and cost conscious, will need to seek solutions that will support operators in the field, reducing stress points and bolstering physical and mental health.
Stress, both physical and psychological, takes a toll on service men and women in the field and on bases across the globe –– oftentimes more taxing on the generals and officers who have to make critical decisions under extremely delicate situations. Combatants in the field, specifically, encounter numerous physical stressors in relation to their own personal protective equipment (PPE). The weight, mobility and comfort of PPE hasn’t been prioritized in the past, but militaries are now realizing the critical importance of reducing stress points in this area.
Military leaders know that a mobile soldier is a survivable soldier. In that respect, militaries, like in the U.S., are investing heavily in lightweight wearables to make combat gear less burdensome. From new modular vests to lighter ceramic plates, wearables provide combatants with better mobility and less physical stress on the field. Sensors in these high-tech wearables can also track soldier’s health status in real time, allowing operators to retreat members whose physician conditions are at risk and adjust the intensity level of military training based on physiological indicators as monitored by smart wearables.
But physical stressors aren’t the only major health risk confronting our armed forces. Military leaders are also recognizing the toll of emotional strain on our service men and women, not to mention the PTSD epidemic among veterans and wounded soldiers.
Separated from their families while working in hazardous environments with extraordinary physical demands, “enlisted military” is ranked as the world’s most stressful job field. Unchecked emotional stress can often lead to potentially major health risks that can compromise not just soldiers’ health status, but also mission-critical operations. But any technology that can support these service individuals must be cost efficient, not weigh down field operators nor expose them to dangers by connecting to bluetooth technology.
And stress and health issues don’t remain on the battlefield. While many of the emotional impacts of military life can be invisible to the eye, they have a very physical impact on the body. Among veterans who served in active combat, 17% reported symptoms of PTSD. The healing and treatment of wounded soldiers and veterans, as PTSD is often associated with medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic pain and diabetes.
In order to grow revenue in a competitive environment, companies that service military customers should consider building products that offer value-added capabilities to traditional PPE. These firms may find an edge by incorporating lightweight and wearable technologies to existing military gear. Competition in the space is fierce, and companies that move quickly into emerging technologies will likely be rewarded with large contracts.
It is incumbent on militaries to invest in veteran care in the most cost effective way possible. If such approaches are invested in early and strategically, responsible governments will see compelling results. Companies that bid on military contracts will see huge benefits if they move quickly into making products that service these needs.