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Global defense spending has been on a steady upswing since the past couple of years with the same reaching the $1.8 trillion mark for 2018, the highest level since the post cold war low of 1998, while registering a 2.6% year on year growth driven by the radical transformation of geopolitical dynamics and equations with the dismantling of traditional rule based world order and the transition away from the typical unipolar world, which had prevailed since the end of Cold War. The same has been further exacerbated by the Trump-led U.S. administration's squandering of the traditional global leadership role under the America First policy which has led to realignment of relationships with the key NATO and other allies with the mandate to increase defense spending to the 2% level of GDP.
The global defense spending is led by the U.S. and China which collectively accounted for over 50% of the total global defense spending for 2018, with the U.S. registering its first major increase in defense spending since 2010. The continued development of military capabilities by China & the resurgence of Russia as a key regional power over the years have already induced a shift in the overall U.S. strategy towards competition with near peer adversaries as against counter-terrorism operations, which had been the focus earlier. This shift in strategic focus entails fast tracked procurement of systems and hardware to maintain numerical superiority, rapid development & deployment of next generation capabilities to plug existing and potential capabilities gaps and to retain the traditional, long standing strategic capabilities overmatch against adversaries along with continued R&D pursuits to maintain technological edge.
The U.S. defense industrial base has been on a renaissance of sorts over the recent years given the rapid transformation & evolution of geo-political dynamics and ongoing conflicts across some parts of the world. The modernization and upgrade of existing systems and hardware and their replacement with proven technologies and current, off the shelf solutions is providing significant growth opportunities to the U.S. based defense industrial base as showcased by the initiation of a number of new, large ticket defense procurement programs over the recent years, which in the land systems domain include, JLTV for replacement of ageing & obsolete HMMWVs, Capabilities upgrade for the M1 Abrams MBTs & M2 Bradley and New contract Awards under AMPV & ACV 1.1 programs.
Key contract awards across other domains include, the award of development contracts for the next generation of rotorcrafts under the strategic Future Vertical Lift (JMR-FVL) program, the next generation strategic bomber B-21 Raider under the LRS-B program, USAF's UH-1N replacement program, the Navy's upcoming program for the replacement of its TH-57 trainer helicopter fleet and the phased replacement of its destroyer and submarine fleets and the re-engining of the U.S. Army's AH-64 Apache and UH-60 BlackHawk helicopter fleets, under the Improved Engine Turbine Program (IETP).
The same trend is being echoed across most other parts of the world with a similar focus. Commercial aviation, one of the largest industry segments, too, continues with its one of the longest super-cycles with record order backlogs across industry OEMs bolstering top line growth throughout the industry value chain.
Thus, with acknowledgement of strong external threat perceptions, there is political consensus on fast tracked modernization, upgrade & replacements, which have been further corroborated by technological developments by the industry which are promising next generation capabilities at a workable and optimized TCO proposition. The U.S. based defense industrial base, thus, is readily gearing up with a spurt in activity and is looking forward to a long and much anticipated activity boom with most OEMs reinvigorating their industrial bases, in line with the age of disruptive technologies, led by digitalization, additive manufacturing, unmanned & optionally manned operating capabilities and artificial intelligence, for making the most of this current phase of demand upswing.