Ballistic composites are used as protective materials in military applications such as law enforcement vests, helmets, and body and vehicle armors. The primary function of these materials is to absorb the impact energy caused by explosives. The entire ballistic composites market is predominantly used by military and law enforcement organizations. The rules and regulations around the use of ballistic composites that bar civilian from possessing armors in most countries, has restricted growth of the market. Due to technological advances in combat weapons and explosives, threats on the battlefront are changing. This has boosted the need for protective equipment to counter these highly enhanced weapons. Moreover, increasing demand for lightweight and flexible armor to allow mobility has augmented market growth. A major challenge the industry faces is keeping up with growing weapon advancements.
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Aramids are synthetic high performance fibers that have rigid polymer chains. They are heat resistant and are used for aerospace applications. UHMPE is used for high resistance applications. Glass fiber are transparent and are resistant to penetration. They are commonly used to make bulletproof glasses for automobiles and buildings. M5 fiber is used for a special purpose body armor due to its flame and thermal resistance.. It is comparatively lighter than other fibers.
Polymer matrix composites (PMC) and polymer ceramics possess good abrasion and corrosion resistance, due to which they are used in brake components, gas ducts, gas turbines, and heat shield systems of aircraft. Metal Matrix are more expensive than compared to PMC and polymer ceramics, however, they are used for tank and aircraft armors.
Ballistic composites are used in military operations. Military vehicles are reinforced with ballistic composites for better performance.
Ballistic Composites Market Outlook
North America is the largest market for ballistic composites. The Trump administration announced a military budget of US$ 824.7 billion for the fiscal year 2018. The large figure is the result of ongoing U.S. operations in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Also, modernizing current fighter jet fleet and procurement of other military vehicles such as tanks, combat vehicles is projected to boost the market in the region.
Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for ballistic composites. China is expected to increase its military spending by 7% from US$210 billion to US$224.7 billion over the following years. Escalating tensions in the South China Sea between China, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei has led to increased defense spending which has boosted the ballistic composites market. The Indian Army in 2017 procured 160,000 bulletproof helmets made of Kevlar which is a para-aramid fiber.
European countries that are a part of NATO are slated to spend 4.3% more on defense budget, which is a result of mounting friction between Russia and NATO members. Moreover, major arms and defense vehicle manufacturers are present in this region. Dassault, Sukhoi, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, and Thales are major arms manufacturing companies having operations in Europe.
Latin America has a small arms industry. Most of the arms are imported from Europe and North America. Although the military spending in this region is low, illegal arms trafficking is rampant. The region accounts for 9% of the global population with 27% homicide cases.
Middle East is a nascent market for armored vehicles with only Saudi Arabia a major player. Saudi Arabia is the third largest spender in defense after the U.S. and China. African militaries lack vehicles and armor made from ballistic composites and rely on older technology models.
BAE Systems, Barrday Corporation, DSM, Dupont, FY Composites OY, Gaffco Ballistics, Gurit, Honeywell International Inc., M Cubed Technologies, Inc., MKU Limited, Morgan Advanced Materials, PRF Composites, Royal Ten Cate NV, Southern States LLC, and Teiji are some of the major players in the global ballistic composite market.