The battlefield is moving to highly developed urban environment which demands higher accuracy with respect to weapon delivery in order to reduce civilian casualty and collateral damage. Therefore precision guided munitions will continue to be favored by forces, globally. The advancement in the technologies employed in guided munitions have considerably increased the accuracy, thereby ensuring lower probability of collateral damage in the vicinity of the target area.
The preferred munitions among armed forces are the munitions with fire and forget capability. These munitions allow the personnel to engage in covert operations. These missiles once fired can direct themselves to the target. This capability enables the shoot to concentrate to fire at other target and also to maintain their cover without giving away their location to the enemy.
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Considering airborne platforms, the typical guidance for missiles are radar, infrared, laser, and satellite. For bombs, the guidance is typically infra-red and satellite. For land-based and naval platforms, the guidance is similar to that of airborne platforms. The challenge presented before smart munitions is the cost. The cost of a single round of smart munitions could cost thousands of dollars. For the Hellfire missiles, a single missile costs about $60,000. A single unit of GBU-15 bomb costs about $200,000. There is also growing criticism of precision munitions that cause civilian casualties and property damage that often leads to protests.
The global smart weapons market is valued at $3621 million in 2013 and is expected to register a CAGR of 8.06% to reach $5335.1 million by 2018. The cumulative market across the forecasted period is estimated to be $26.73 billion.
U.S. is the most attractive market for smart weapons. It is a matured market with most of the market leaders situated in this country. The U.S. smart weapons market is valued at $1593.3 million in 2013 and is expected to register a CAGR of 2.6% to reach $1817.5 million by 2018. The second-largest market is the Middle East, where the market is expected to increase from $350.9 million in 2013 to $712.1 million in 2018.
Smart Weapons are Increasing Various Types of Platforms
The proliferation of smart weapons onto multiple platforms changes the battlefield. Traditionally, smart weapons could only be integrated with a specific platform or a particular aircraft. The current scenario requires open architectures and integration across various types of platforms. Therefore smart weapons are increasingly becoming easy to integrate.
The ever evolving armor technology has forced manufacturers to develop munitions that can penetrate thicker armors on tanks and other armored vehicles; also, explosive armors have ensured protection to the platform. To counter these armors, precision munitions come with an armor piercing capability. The incendiary mix present within the munitions can pierce through the armor plating and then exploding.
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Precision munitions also offer a variety of detonation mechanisms. There are air burst rounds that can explode at a particular altitude above the target. They typically come with proximity fuse and impact rounds come with contact fuses. There are significant efforts to counter these precision munitions, measures such as radar jamming and false radar signal generation are deployed. To neutralize these measures, precision munitions are integrated with false signature identification systems that can isolate jamming signals.
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