Advanced materials have great potential to address defence challenges and better enable armed forces to respond to future opportunities and threats. They can provide cost-effective and reliable solutions to improve mobility, survivability and efficiency.

Regulatory Trends

Listed below are the key regulatory trends impacting the advanced materials in aerospace and defence theme, as identified by GlobalData.

Lack of guidance for large composite vessels

There is a lack of guidance on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for large composite vessels. Although composites offer many advantages for shipbuilding against steel, the challenges of fire safety and regulations have posed barriers to use.

Currently, the regulations covering composite shipbuilding only cover vessels up to 500t – approximately 25m in length. IMO is scheduled to conduct an assessment of guidelines for composite ships in 2021. Currently, two European consortiums, FIBRESHIP and RAMSSES, are carrying out very important activities in this area, supported by the 378-member European Network for Light Applications at Sea (E-LASS).

Environmental impact

The European Union low carbon emission strategies are based primarily on the energy efficiency of processes and services; second, on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources; and third, on the efficient and optimised storage of renewable energy to minimise losses.

Increasingly, strict global environmental standards and fuel economy regulations have intensified the need to reduce vehicle mass by using lightweight materials instead of high-tensile steel or aluminium. Materials and processes for military systems are expected to have as little negative impact as possible on the environment, including the ecosystem and human health.

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By GlobalData

Another important issue is that new Advanced Materials should be developed by considering the recycling and reuse of as much as possible. Materials recovery and waste re-/upcycling technologies are necessary while providing safe solutions for residues. Additive manufacturing technologies will be useful for recycled, re-designed and reshaped materials manufacturing. Recycling of different types of material components, to produce competitive, highly customised products at lower production costs, can generate new business activities.

Defence organisations coordination

Defence organisations such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Defence Agency (EDA) play an important role in streamlining processes involving force structuring, pooling and sharing, R&D, standardisation and acquisitions.

In the advanced material domain, several EDA projects have been conducted in key areas of Advanced Materials. The Combat Equipment for Dismounted Soldier (CEDS) feasibility studies addressed topics such as adaptive camouflage, architecture approaches and soft ballistic protection.

Within the Joint Investment Programme on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN), the PROSAFE project explored the use of nano-fibres for permeability. Notable efforts in researching improved repair methods and structural health monitoring were undertaken in the PATCHBOND project. Advanced Low Observable Materials have been explored in the ALOA project and are currently researched further under the ALOMAS project.

The CERAMBALL project has addressed lighter ballistic protections for soldiers, while projects such as ECOCOAT and CCNS have been centered on environmentally compliant coatings. Such organisations will grant their members access to information on lessons-learned by other partners and improve their force structure, training and procurement of systems. Moreover, NATO or EDA can advise their members on developing the standards upon which military systems, as well as their components (e.g. radios, computers, software etc.), will be designed and manufactured.

This is an edited extract from the Advanced Materials in Aerospace and Defense – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.