Old war tactics entailed drawing the enemy out to an open ground for a battle, without the use of any nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. This conventional method of warfare has gone through a massive transformation, due to technology. The evolution of main battle tanks, armored vehicles, arms and ammunitions, missiles, and fighter jets, among other aspects has diverted battle capability towards an asymmetric warfare. This has led to the use of technology to build a network-centric battlefield, wherein a command station located at a distant place holds the reins to all the necessary war actions.
Battlefield Management Systems (BMS) market is a highly mobile and tactical command-and-control information system, integrated with sensors, weapon platforms, and decision making tools. These systems integrate real time situational awareness and information exchange for unit commanders and soldiers to enable optimal management of resources within the combat area.
Key BMS manufacturers including Lockheed Martin Corporation, General Dynamics Corporation, Finmeccanica SpA, Thales SA, Saab AB, Raytheon Company, Rockwell Collins Inc., Elbit Systems, and BAE Systems Plc play a pivotal role in offering the best technology available to the global defense market. Different BMS programs offered by top manufacturers include Lockheed Martin’s C2BMC System and the Aegis Combat System, General Dynamics’ Thor system, and Northrop Grumman Corporation’s IBCS System, among others. The Bowman program by General Dynamics, (U.K.) is fundamental to the forces in the region, in terms of tactical communication systems.
Although land forces are the major users of BMS, the use of these systems for airborne and naval forces is equally important, when it comes to joint military programs. Recently, France expressed concerns on airborne BMS programs, after realizing deficiencies in the intelligence gathered by the French drones during a recent overseas operation in Mali and Libya.
The market for BMS is growing, with demand arising from emerging economies such as Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, China, and South Korea. The recession in 2007 led to a global economic downturn, which resulted in shrinking defense budgets. This led the U.S. and Europe to halt important BMS projects. New opportunity markets exist in the oil-rich economies in the Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia and UAE, who have increased their defense budget to counter terrorist attacks and improvise on border security measures. For instance, Saudi Arabia undertook the upgradation of M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks to M1A2S SEP standard, which will provide the Saudi army with new Block I second-generation Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology and Blue Force Tracking (BFT) capabilities. In the Asia-Pacific region, India is the primary BMS market with an opportunity for heavy investments in the land-based systems that primarily counter threats from their estranged neighbor; China. A BMS project dubbed as the “Make India Program” will see a $5 billion investment, with domestic companies participating in the program alongside foreign defense manufacturers.
With an improving economic scenario, many contracts have been signed to develop BMS applications including dismounted soldier systems, commander systems, communication network equipment, tracked and armored vehicles, and BMS software. In Feb 2014, Lockheed Martin Corporationsigned a contract worth $8 million with the U.S. Air Force to develop software that integrates air operations and missile defense assets. This software developed for airborne applications will enable enhanced situational awareness and facilitate collaborative planning for all combat commands. In Oct 2013, Cobham Plc and Northrop Grumman Corporation were awarded a contract order for the production of the AN/VIC-5 enhanced vehicular communication system for the U.S. Army PEO Enterprise Information Systems. In the Australian BMS program, participating companies include Elbit systems as the prime contractor, along with Harris and Raytheon that offer combat radio systems, and Saab AB providing Battlefield Command Support System (BCSS).
The major drivers stimulating growth in the BMS market include prevention of fratricide in a battlefield by providing commanders with a comprehensive view of the battlefield in terms of target analysis, and recommendations for target engagement. The obvious restraint for the market lies in reduced defense expenditure in the U.S and Europe. However, with the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, many European economies are gradually increasing their military expenditure to stay at par with present-day war capabilities.
Never-ending external threats from terrorist attacks and neighbor disputes are voraciously hiking up defense investments for every nation. Herein, BMSes provide solutions to global military forces to counter enemy attacks by taking preventive actions at the right place and in good time.