Digital soldier kits cost too high for 100% modernization, but even incremental upgrades to benefit combat capabilities

The acquisition of integrated digital soldier kits will be revolutionary in driving modernization efforts around the world and be the main driving force behind the market in the future, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. However, for the moment, the cost is expected to be too high for 100% implementation and incremental uptake is likely.

The company’s latest thematic report, ‘Soldier Modernization – Thematic Research’, states that dismounted solider systems (DSS) can confront new threats and provide soldiers with necessary protection during missions. Their exceptional situational awareness, digitization and connectivity to dismounted soldiers – through the use of sensors and command and control units – can transform soldiers into systems, significantly increasing their combat capabilities – especially in military operations in urban terrain.

Stelios Kanavakis, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Despite the impressive capabilities of DSS, the unit prices of these kits are costly, starting from around US$15,000. This prohibits full-scale adoption for all combat units in an army and only military forces with sufficient resources will be able to take advantage – and even then, only certain units will be able to have the full set, while the rest are equipped with increments of the full sets. Saying that, even this ‘high-low mix’ of capabilities is nevertheless an upgrade compared to any previous equipment.”

Despite budget pressures faced by certain markets, the lessons-learned from the recent operations have shown the importance of digitization and the integration of soldiers in a networked environment, both acting as force multipliers.

Kanavakis adds: “Even if an army cannot afford a full digital soldier kit, modularity allows an incremental approach to building such a kit – while engaging as many suppliers as possible, which has become of increased importance in the COVID-19 era.”

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