The Light Weapons Market is expected to grow from USD 4.84 billion in 2020 to USD 8.93 billion in 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 6.31% during the forecast period (2021-2030).
The COVID-19 pandemic has had minimal impact on the market. The pandemic has altered the priorities of prominent nations and forced them to divert a significant share of their economic resources to modernize and strengthen their medical infrastructure. The ongoing global economic slowdown limits the procurement prospects for light weapons and the demand for ammunition. Thus, a subsequent decline in military spending is anticipated on a short-term basis. Nevertheless, procurement delays are expected over a short duration but drastic fluctuations in demand due to the pandemic are not anticipated.
Raw material prices have witnessed significant volatility over the past decade. Hence, disagreements between contracting parties over certain clauses in the defense contracts, such as the transfer of technology clause, have also resulted in the cancellation of sanctioned projects.
The demand for light weapons is expected to be propelled by their characteristic advantage of penetrating and disabling heavily armored threats. The widening geopolitical rift in Asia-Pacific and the Middle-East and Africa regions have driven nations to increase their annual defense budget and expenditure to support the modernization of the arsenal of their armed forces.
However, arms trafficking remains a major growth deterrence factor for the light weapons market as the increasing availability of light weapons in the black-market leads to the development of organized crime, terrorism, human trafficking, and piracy, among others, which pose a security threat to a nation's integrity while presenting significant challenges for law enforcement agencies and governments on a global scale.
Key Market Trends
Evolving Battlefield Engagement Scenarios Driving the Demand for New Generation Weapon Systems
There has been a radical change in battlefield engagement scenarios over the past few years. Urban warfare has been witnessing major growth due to the global trend toward urbanization, increasingly volatile domestic political conditions in developing countries, and changes in the scenarios of an armed conflict.
The evolution of the battlefield environment has necessitated the subsequent upgrade and customization of armament. The need for high-precision, lightweight, and compact weapon systems has led innovators to invest considerable resources in the development of sophisticated weapon systems. The evolution of technology has led to the development of guided weapons with a high target hit ratio, which are supported through a range of accessories such as weapon sights, night vision devices, aiming lasers, laser rangefinders, and fire control systems. For instance, in May 2018, Russian manufacturer KBP Instrument Design Bureau showcased its latest generation of the 9K333 Verba man-portable surface-to-air missile system, which can effectively engage an approaching or receding aircraft, helicopter, cruise missile, or UAV. The new generation 9M336 missile is claimed to be twice as efficient as its predecessor beyond a range of 1.86 miles. The system can detect targets through various systems, including the tripod-mounted 1L122 lightweight surveillance radar or the 9S932-1 mobile radar system, generally mounted on the tracked Armored Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle of the Russian Army. Such developments are expected to drive the market in focus during the forecast period.
North America Dominated the Market in 2020
North America region currently has the highest share in the market. This growth is driven by the increasing military spending of the United States due to political unrest with China and Russia, which is propelling the countryâ€™s investments towards expanding and modernizing its fielded weaponry with advanced technologies to strengthen its armed forces. In this regard, as of November 2020, the US Army began a multi-year study to determine a suitable replacement for its M240 platoon-level machine gun. Similarly, the US Marine Corps (USMC) initiated the inducting of the new M320A1 grenade launcher in March 2020. It aims to equip all infantry units with the side-loading 40 mm weapon by the end of 2021. As per the US Armyâ€™s technical manual for 40 mm grenade launchers, the M320A1 has a maximum effective range of 150 m on a point target, such as a window, and a 350 m max effective range on an area target.
Canada also has been significantly investing into modernization of its arms to enhance the capabilities of armed forces. On this note, in January 2020, the Canadian MoD announced the procurement of 3,626 C6A1 FLEX General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) from Colt Canada to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces continue to have a modern and reliable weapon to support training and operations. The acquisition supplements the 1,148 machine guns that were acquired in 2017 at a cost of USD 32.1 million. The GPMG allows soldiers to attach pointing devices and optical sighting systems to help increase operational and tactical effectiveness. Such investments towards modernization of weapons and procurement of advanced light weapons in the region is anticipated to propel the growth of the market during the forecast period.
The light weapons market is highly fragmented, with the presence of many manufacturers that offer weapon systems and ammunition for HMGs, grenades and grenade launchers, mortars, MANPATS, MANPADS, and other explosives. General Dynamics Corporation is a dominant market player in the base year as the company is benefitted by a strong presence in North America, which is currently the largest market for light weapons. The other major players in the market are Saab AB, MBDA Inc.â€‹, and Rheinmetall AG. With investments in research and development, companies have been expanding their portfolio with the addition of new product offerings. For instance, in August 2019, Rheinmetall unveiled its new RSG60 60mm mortar for infantry and special forces. These mortar systems are lightweight, quick to operate, and ergonomic. Such developments are expected to help the companies expand their market share and presence across the world. Also, with several local players increasing their capabilities in the light weapons industry, the market studied is expected to become more competitive. Hence, developing technologically advanced products is deemed vital for sustaining market share in the light weapons market during the forecast period.
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