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Composites in United States Defense Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)

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  • 88 Pages
  • January 2022
  • Region: United States
  • Mordor Intelligence
  • ID: 5318601

The Composites in United States defense market was valued at USD 2,968 million in 2020, and it is projected to reach USD 3,413 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 2.5% during the forecast period (2021-2026).

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent shutdowns have affected the defense manufacturing sector in the country. The negative impacts of the pandemic are clearly visible in the supply chains of several players, as several programs rely on a uniquely global network of part suppliers. Though the government and defense companies have tried their best to avoid disruptions, the pandemic has impacted production in several facilities. Furthermore, the advent of the second wave of COVID-19 in several regions across the world remains a concern for the market players.

The United States has been investing billions in the development of newer generation military platforms, vehicles, and offensive and defensive systems to enhance the mission readiness of its armed forces and maintain its technological superiority. Most of these newer generation weapon systems feature increased use of composite materials. Such procurements are expected to propel the growth of the market during the forecast period.

In addition to procurement, the US government also funds several research programs that focus on developing future military systems using advanced non-traditional materials like composite materials. This is expected to bolster the market prospects during the forecast period.

Key Market Trends

The Thermoplastic Composites Segment is Expected to Register the Highest Growth Rate During the Forecast Period

The thermoplastic composites segment is expected to experience major growth in the United States defense market during the forecast period. Thermoset molding compounds are offered in unique formulations of existing thermoset chemistries, depending on the demands of the application. The key properties of thermoset composites for military applications include lightweight load-bearing, high-strength, corrosion resistance, temperature resistance, high impact resistance, highly repeatable volumes to scale (for joint services applications), and long-life span. In the United States, thermoset composites are used for munition containers, where high-value items need safe storage and transportation; gunner seats on armored personnel carriers (APCs), where molded-in mounting inserts provide high torque retention and excellent load-bearing properties; handguards for the M-16 field weapon, where thermal insulation and durability are key; and rotary aircraft components, where durability and lightweight are critical to safe performance. Three of the most common thermoset resins are polyester, vinyl ester, and epoxy. Due to the inherent performance benefits over metals and alloys, thermoset plastics are used extensively for military aircraft construction. On this note, thermoset composites constitute around 24% of the airframe structural weight of an F-22 aircraft, while the F-35 wingtip fairings are made up of a thermoset epoxy reinforced with carbon nanotubes. Upcoming defense projects are envisioned to feature a higher volume of thermoset composites, thereby driving the thermoset composites segment of the market during the forecast period.

The Manned and Unmanned Aircraft Segment Dominates the Market in Terms of Market Share

The manned and unmanned aircraft segment currently dominates the market and is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period. Advancements in composite technology have helped US-based military aircraft manufacturers build lighter, faster, and stronger aircraft in recent years. Composites are being used in several new aerial platforms with the US military like the F-35 and F/A-18E/F Hornet fighters, CH53, V-22 Osprey, UH60M Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache helicopters, and A400M transport aircraft. Furthermore, to reduce fuel costs and increase range, speed, and payload capability, the country's armed forces are working with government bodies and manufacturers to further enhance composites' usage on all future aerial platforms. The Air Force is currently emphasizing replacing aluminum and titanium alloys in aerial platforms with composite materials. The Air Force Research Laboratory (ARFL) partnered with companies like Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, Proof Research, and Triumph Aerostructures to develop advanced, high-temperature polymer matrix composites (PMCs) that can replace titanium parts in aircraft and can potentially reduce the weight of parts by over 40%, saving fuel and increasing the efficiency and range of the aircraft. In addition to this, there has been an increased use of composites in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In November 2019, the United States successfully conducted the first flight of the Gremlin unmanned aircraft, which are multi-user systems capable of being fitted with different payloads and can be used in swarms to accomplish different missions. The composite-constructed Gremlin UAV weighs 363 kg and has a pivoting wing. Such increasing investments in the integration of composites into aerial platforms are anticipated to drive the growth of the market.

Competitive Landscape

There are several players in the market that are directly involved in providing composite materials to military equipment and are involved in research and development programs for the integration of composites. Solvay SA, Hexcel Corporation, Toray Industries Inc., DuPont, and The NORDAM Group LLC are some of the prominent players in this market that are expected to hold a significant share in the coming years. The long-term contracts of composite manufacturing companies with military equipment manufacturers and government research programs are expected to support the companies in increasing their shares in the market. For instance, in September 2020, Solvay was awarded a five-year material supply contract for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet. The contract extends Solvay’s long-standing partnership on the F-35 program and underlines the company’s leadership in composite and adhesive technologies for defense platforms. Furthermore, there has been an increase in consolidation in the market as the companies are acquiring companies that will complement their product portfolios and further enhance their footprint in the market. In this regard, in February 2020, DuPont announced that the company had successfully completed the acquisition of Tex Tech’s Core Matrix Technology, a monolithic fabric structure that can significantly help in the reduction of back face trauma while increasing ballistic and fragmentation performance for military and law enforcement personnel.

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Table of Contents

1.1 Study Assumptions
1.2 Scope of the Study
4.1 Market Overview
4.2 Market Drivers
4.3 Market Restraints
4.4 Porter's Five Forces Analysis
4.4.1 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers
4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Suppliers
4.4.3 Threat of New Entrants
4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products
4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry
5 MARKET SEGMENTATION (Market Size by Value - USD million)
5.1 Application
5.1.1 Manned and Unmanned Aircraft
5.1.2 Naval Ships
5.1.3 Land Vehicles
5.1.4 Protective Equipment
5.1.5 Other Applications
5.2 Resin Type
5.2.1 Thermoset Composites
5.2.2 Thermoplastic Composites
5.2.3 Ceramic Matrix Composites
6.1 Company Profiles
6.1.1 Advanced Composites Inc.
6.1.2 Hexcel Corporation
6.1.3 Solvay SA
6.1.4 Toray Industries Inc.
6.1.5 Sherwood Advanced Composite Technologies
6.1.6 DuPont
6.1.7 Huntsman International LLC
6.1.8 Terma AS
6.1.9 Alpine Advanced Materials
6.1.10 Honeywell International Inc.
6.1.11 Leading Technology Composites Inc. (LTC)
6.1.12 ACT Aerospace
6.1.13 CFOAM LLC
6.1.15 The NORDAM Group LLC

Companies Mentioned (Partial List)

A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes, but is not limited to:

  • Advanced Composites Inc.
  • Hexcel Corporation
  • Solvay SA
  • Toray Industries Inc.
  • Sherwood Advanced Composite Technologies
  • DuPont
  • Huntsman International LLC
  • Terma AS
  • Alpine Advanced Materials
  • Honeywell International Inc.
  • Leading Technology Composites Inc. (LTC)
  • ACT Aerospace
  • The NORDAM Group LLC