The pressure on US defence spending has recently forced many key armoured vehicle programmes to be cancelled, delayed or reduced.
Already axed has been the US's Future Combat Systems (FCS) and more recently the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), while the US Senate Appropriations Committee just last month attempted to stop the planned Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme dead in its tracks, even before a single vehicle is procured. The US still remains, however, the biggest spender investing in the procurement of new vehicles and upgrades.
Other countries have not been immune to programme cancellation or delays. The United Kingdom, for example, has constantly postponed and redefined its requirement for new medium armoured vehicles leaving a fleet of 1970s-era tracked vehicles to soldier on.
Russia is another country that has stalled on the development or procurement of new armoured vehicles, instead looking to domestic manufacturers to upgrade and modernise existing platforms. The Russian Army has actually begun looking at Western vehicles as alternatives to what it perceives as dated technology produced by its own industry.
There still remains a high demand for armoured vehicles with many current platforms reaching the end of their service life. Key programmes and requirements are in place in 20 or more countries, some of which will be manufactured domestically. It can be estimated, according to the new report the International Armoured and Mine-Protected Vehicle Market, that major programmes and requirements currently in place and planned in the next decade or so could be worth in excess of US$150 billion.
Some US$4.1 billion was spent alone in 2010 on the procurement of new vehicles, driven by demand for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. This level of spending has been maintained into 2011.
The counter-insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq have had a significant impact on the armoured vehicle market in recent years with contracts not just awarded for MRAPs, but enhanced armour protection, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) countermeasures, sensors and improved weapon systems. This remains an important area at the moment in the US and European armoured vehicle market, albeit until forces begin to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.
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