In its annual analysis “The World Market for Tanks,” the Forecast International Weapons Group projects that the international market will produce nearly 7,800 main battle tanks, worth in excess of $31.6 billion, through 2015. The upper tier of tanks like the American M1 Abrams and derivatives, British Challenger 2, French AMX Leclerc, German Leopard 2, Indian Tank-EX aka. Karan, Italian Ariete 2, and Israeli Merkava Mark 4 continue to show production declines against the second tier, dropping to about 17% of the market during this period. Meanwhile, a lower tier that mostly consists of modified Soviet-era tanks continues to grow. Forecast international believes that China’s Type 96/98, Pakistan’s related Al-Khalid, and Russia’s T-90 will account for nearly 45% of all new tanks rolling out worldwide, worth about 40% of the market, through 2015. DID also received a full copy of the analysis, and was interested to note that Iran’s Dio sits in 4th place for projected tank production with its licensed T-72S variant and Zulfiquar tanks.
Yet that growth in second-tier production percentages may be deceptive. F.I.’s analysis notes that the high cost of new top-line tanks is creating a thriving modernization market, intended to extend the life of these assets as long as possible. DID has covered programs like the USA’s M1 AIM Reset, and the report notes that the value of the US M1 fleet’s maintenance, AIM and modernization programs were equivalent to 32.6% of the total value of all new production main battle tanks in 2004; in 2005, that figure was 21.3%. The Israeli experience re: the value of tanks in urban warfare, followed by the USA and Britain’s forced realization that their top-end tanks had no viable substitute during Operation Iraqi Freedom, means that programs of this type can be expected to remain a strong procurement trend for some time to come. Read full F.I. release.