C4ISR

The Internet of Arms will be slow to emerge

The Internet of Things is an emerging market, but the military and aerospace segment will take a while to get off the ground, according to a new market assessment.

"In the grand scheme of things, when you are looking at many of the other market segments [industrial, automotive, medical], military and aerospace is fairly limited," said Mike Morelli, IoT research director at market watcher IHS. "What we do see is an increasingly sophisticated set of technologies that are being integrated into [aircraft]."

Morelli likened the military and aerospace IoT market to the automotive segment, where navigation and other sensors have become standard equipment over the last several years. "We feel that could really help improve the intelligence and maintenance as well as the improved safety."

IHS predicts "significant security risks" in fielding military IoT technologies, Morelli stressed. A major reason is that military specifications tend to be highly secured. The other risk for companies entering the military market is high cost of operational failures.

In terms of opportunities, Morelli cited the increased reach that IoT technologies could provide the U.S. military. One likely component of a military IoT could be drones tied to larger Defense Department networks, IHS predicts, which is something the Pentagon does have long-range plans for

Still, the market watcher considers military and aerospace to be a small but significant contributor to the emerging IoT. Despite relatively slow growth curve for the military and aerospace market, IHS projects the market will grow at a 17.7 percent compound annual rate through 2025. That works out to an estimated 13 million connected devices installed by 2025, IHS reckons.

(The market watcher's forecast extends beyond standard five-year forecasts, according to Morelli, because "many of the IoT implementations and applications areas and use cases really are much longer-term investments.")

"Historically, what has made this sector unique is the demand for specific manufacturing processes," Morelli added. "These demands can be physical, with specifications requiring components to provide greater tolerances to extreme temperature, radiation, magnetic fields and other conditions that pose a special environmental challenge."

While many IoT projects are ramping up, military efforts in the IoT arena are seen as requiring planning for "extra-long lifecycle" support, Morelli said.

Military specifications "tend to be highly secretive, and for good reason," the analyst said, adding that current suppliers with secure manufacturing facilities likely have the best chance to capitalize over the next decade on fielding a military IoT.

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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