The global smart textiles for the military market size were valued at USD 259.66 million in 2022. It is projected to reach USD 2099.33 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 26.14% during the forecast period (2023-2031).
Smart textiles are intelligent textile structures or fabrics that can sense and react to environmental stimuli, which may be mechanical, thermal, chemical, biological, or magnetic. The integration of smart textiles into service ecosystems that extend beyond the current horizontal textile value chain is increasing. Consequently, it is projected that smart textiles' material and tangible properties will be broadened to incorporate intangible attributes from services, such as the ability to track and store data and change a material's functionality over time. Army authorities throughout the world utilize smart fabrics frequently. The creation of technologically superior military uniforms and materials heavily relies on textile-based materials that have been enhanced with nanotechnology and electronics. Armed personnel can do their tasks with fewer gadgets and loads, thanks to smart technologies.
The configuration of international security systems has been compromised by the expanding hegemonism, unilateralism, and power politics that have fueled multiple global crises due to the fundamental changes in the international strategic landscape. One of the main factors upsetting the geopolitical environment is the ambiguity of territorial claims between several nations, such as during the Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East. Governments' most frequent response is to raise military spending to enhance security in their nations. Military superpowers, including the US, UK, China, France, Australia, and India, have concentrated on improving the technological prowess of their armed forces. Several modernization initiatives for the armed services are now in progress to ensure the combat readiness of current defensive equipment. The rise in defense funding now pays for these initiatives.
As smart textile technologies advance, they provide market participants and end-users with unique difficulties. While some problems are exclusive to military users, others go beyond applications and affect all smart fabrics fields. Military smart textiles must adhere to strict regulations for military use from the textile and electronics industries. The circuits woven into the materials must be highly durable because they will be used in challenging conditions. Electronic systems and circuits shouldn't impact the smart textile's comfort, washability, and reuse. The higher prices make it difficult for the military to purchase these intelligent textiles in considerable quantities, posing a challenge to the market's expansion, particularly in poorer nations.
Modern yarn systems and techniques for textile creation make up a sizable portion of the technical textile manufacturing industry. Depending on their intended use, smart fabrics integrate fibers and technology. These fibers include conductive yarns and polymers, fiber optics, microelectronics, sensors, shape memory polymers, encapsulated phase change materials, and fiber optics. The development of micro-electric systems inspired designers and engineers to combine electricity with clothing, revolutionizing the textile industry and paving the way for the development of smart textiles. With the help of fibers and yarns, flexible integrated circuits, lights, and sensors, smart textiles will soon be able to see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, control temperature, keep an eye on your health, change color, and more. Conductive polymers are being applied to photovoltaic fibers in research to create textile-based solar cells. Konarka Technologies Inc., a pioneer in creating and marketing power polymers that harness light energy, has previously shown that it can make a functional photovoltaic fiber.
Based on product type, the global smart textiles for the military market is bifurcated into camouflage, energy harvest, temperature monitoring and control, protection and mobility, health monitoring, and diagnostics.
The temperature monitoring and control segment is the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast period. Conductive materials must be incorporated for textiles to sense the environment's temperature. The qualities of the textiles, such as their flexibility, handling, and stretch, must not be altered by the functionalization when sensors are included in them. Military apparel, sleeping bags, and blankets are becoming warmer thanks to integrating smart materials with adaptive insulating properties. American scientists have been experimenting with nanowire fabrics to keep soldiers warm and cozy while operating in cold environments. Due to the escalating tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, India recently had to purchase 11,000 sets of extended cold-weather clothing systems from the US. Manufacturers of smart textiles may take advantage of the Indian Army's need for cold-weather apparel in the future by pitching the Indian Army their cutting-edge intelligent fabrics.
Military personnel must be protected from the elements and potential fighting threats if they are to operate there for an extended period. Biological and chemical agents continue to provide significant hazards due to their extensive defensive and offensive capabilities. Concerns that non-state armed actors, such as terrorists and militia groups, could employ biological pathogens to target air, water sources, food supplies, and other crucial infrastructures have recently raised the threat of bioterrorism. Toxins and microbiological substances also represent a severe threat to the soldiers' mental health, which may compromise the success of any military operations. The military can effectively reduce the harm caused by dangerous gases thanks to IoT sensors embedded in smart clothing that can detect their existence and concentration in the air. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and the Indian Institute of Technology worked together to create a significantly less expensive smart soldier jacket with integrated interconnects, antennae, sensors, and chips. It is being created at the DRDO-established Joint Advanced Technology Centre (JATC) at IIT-D. Three stages will go into the creation of the jacket.
The global smart textiles for military market is divided into four regions: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Asia-Pacific is the most significant revenue contributor and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.74% during the forecast period. The Asia-Pacific defense industry is gradually devoting substantial human, material, and financial resources to integrating smart wearable technology into the military and creating a military strategy for smart wearable device systems driven by the innovation and rapid adoption of smart wearable technologies. Researchers from South Korea have released the initial test findings of a newly created artificial cloaking skin that allows soldiers to successfully blend in during the day and avoid being seen by thermal cameras at night. The flexible components of the wearable skin can be worn to blend into the surroundings while also using active cooling and heating to imitate the visual colors or thermal profiles of the soldier's surroundings. The continuing Indo-China conflict has raised the possibility of acquiring several pieces of equipment for the deployed forces on short notice. By 2022, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) expects to have fully implemented smartwatches to track its training regimen. By enabling instructors to assess cadet vitals in real-time, the introduction of smartwatches is projected to increase the safety and effectiveness of the current training program.
Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.12% during the forecast period. Using data science and technology, the British Army is looking for quick improvements to enhance service members' deployability and general health. The goal is to use valuable sensors and assist data processing in providing indicators and warnings before the injury, enabling early intervention and injury prevention. Musculoskeletal injury (MSKI), environmental injury (heat and cold), and noise-induced hearing loss are the three areas of focus (NIHL). A new active camouflage textile that offers extreme scalability and can even be used on tanks and other military equipment was unveiled by TsNIITochMash, a significant designer and manufacturer of weapons for the Russian military and MVD Internal Troops, and Ros Electronics, a leading Russian producer of electronics. The Royal Netherlands Army received the first order of Mission Navigation Belts, according to a statement from Elitac Wearables B.V. Soldiers can feel waypoint navigation instructions with the Mission Navigation Belt (MNB), a lightweight belt with quiet vibration motors worn around the waist.
The U.S. military is sent on several missions as part of their efforts to defend the world. They must therefore function well in a diversified geographic setting that may expose them to significant weather variations, such as intense heat or cold. A cutting-edge smart textile was unveiled by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) that employs nanotechnology to regulate and retain body heat in soldiers. The embedded nanowires in the smart fabric can generate temperatures of up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit when an electric current is induced through them, allowing the fabric to reflect heat to the wearer. Canada is working to advance the smart clothing sector by introducing innovative technology. A Quantum Stealth material that offers a wide range of scaling potential for soldiers, tanks, planes, and even ships was patented by Hyperstealth Biotechnology, a leading manufacturer of camouflage uniforms to regional and worldwide end-user nations. The material's stealth characteristics are achieved by reflecting incident light onto the target. The material may block a wide range of light spectrums, including ultraviolet, infrared, and shortwave infrared, in addition to the visible spectrum.
The Middle East, Africa, and Latin American region have tropical and subtropical climates with frequent and extreme climatic swings, which is why integrating smart textiles would be advantageous to bolster the capabilities of the deployed military forces. Such prospective adoption provides an optimistic view of the market during the projection period. Since smart textiles are still a relatively new idea, the rest of the world's countries have a substantially lower adoption rate. The market in these regions is essentially nonexistent. Hence any significant innovations are restricted to other areas. However, some countries have only made a small number of R&D efforts because they want to build their smart textile capabilities. However, it is anticipated that the troop modernization initiatives done by these countries will also foster a mutually beneficial environment for the market for smart military fabrics.
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March 2022- W. L. Gore and Associates of the United States unveiled the first Gore-Tex stretch fabric technology for use in military rain jackets.
May 2022- Australian Department of Defence started the rollout of the Royal Australian Navy’s new maritime uniform. This uniform was developed by partnering with Workwear Group, Melbourne, and Bruck Textiles Group and is incorporated with inherent fire-retardant properties within the fabric.