The Visegrad Group of countries, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, after joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been focusing on modernisation and replacement of Soviet-era weapons and defence equipment to meet NATO interoperability criteria. The global economic downturn and limited defence expenditure have slowed down this process. Nevertheless, thanks to Polish procurement programmes and Ukraine's ambitious Navy plans, the defence industry in the Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) region should remain secure, with a slight growth in expected expenditure from 17.5 billion USD in 2011 to 17.9 billion USD in 2020.
Most Ministries of Defence (MoDs) in Europe are currently underfinanced. The majority of armed forces in the CEE region suffer from consistent budget shortfalls and lack of foresight in procurement planning. Large proportions of equipment stocks are reaching the end of their operational life spans, but MoDs will be unable to finance all planned modernisation programmes. In contrast to the most CEE countries, the situation in Poland looks rather promising.
"Poland is to continue being the regional leader in terms of defence spending," says Dominik Kimla, Frost & Sullivan's Industry Analyst for Aerospace, Defence & Security group. Already the main contributor to the defence expenditure in the CEE region, the country is expected to increase its share from 52.1 per cent in 2011 to 55.4 per cent in 2020. One of the key market drivers is the Polish government's legal commitment to allocate 1.95 percent of the previous year's gross domestic product to defence spend.
Under 2009 procurement plans, the Polish MoD envisages spending of almost 11 billion USD (30 billion PLN) by 2018 on defence equipment in the form of 14 ongoing programmes. Polish utility helicopter and air defence system projects will be the biggest defence tenders in the CEE region. There is also a great market opportunity in support-in-service (SIS) outsourcing. Frost & Sullivan estimates that outsourced SIS expenditure in Poland will reach 4.09 billion USD by 2020.
"Upcoming privatisation of the defence industry in Poland will also bolster growth," adds Kimla. The state-owned Bumar Group is undergoing a significant restructuring and consolidation process and the government plans to sell a minority stake of the Poland biggest defence industry player by mid-2013. Moreover, the aviation industry attracts many foreign investors; the upcoming utility helicopter tender is estimated to amount at least 2 billion USD – the bidding decision is to be made after the October 2011 election.
"Ukraine will also significantly contribute to the CEE defence industry," states Kimla. "The country's defence industry inherited a better developed manufacturing base than others in the region, as a legacy of the Soviet Union. Even though approximately 20 per cent of the defence sector export is going to Russia, Ukrainian companies have been looking to collaborate with Western European suppliers."
The most promising project in terms of Ukrainian–Western European defence industry cooperation is the Ukrainian Navy's corvette programme to introduce 4 new corvettes by 2021, with an expected value of 2 billion USD. Lack of advanced naval technology creates an opportunity for foreign suppliers to provide up to 80 per cent of the corvettes' components. "Cooperation in this upcoming programme can create a base for future defence projects after 2016, when the country financial situation improves," notes Kimla.
"Overall, Poland's 11 billion USD (30 billion PLN) modernization program presents many opportunities for the European industry players. Defence companies should consider participation in the upcoming initial public offering of Bumar Group to establish or develop a strong footprint in the CEE region and increase their chances to win planned defence tenders. The Ukrainian Navy's corvette programme too should be also carefully analyzed since it creates an opportunity for Western suppliers to provide significant proportion of the corvettes' components," summarizes Dominik Kimla.
If you would like to learn more about Defence market in the CEE region and/or would like to obtain a free copy of the Frost & Sullivan Market Insight on "How Poland and Ukraine Provide Significant Opportunities for the Defence Industry", please contact Joanna Lewandowska, Corporate Communications, at Joanna.lewandowska[.]frost.com.
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