“Even in the defense services market, which is traditionally considered to have lower barriers to entry, supplier counts are shrinking,” according to DoD’s Industrial Capabilities report released in May. Several challenges facing the aircraft sector were cited in the report, including production limitations, high development and qualification costs, long product and system development timelines and shortage of professionals with capabilities in software and hardware design.
The document identified risks in the munitions and missiles sector such as lack of visibility into sub-tier suppliers, material obsolescence, production gaps, aging infrastructure and loss of design and production skill. For the shipbuilding sector, unstable demand, lack of competition and workforce skills, capacity shortfalls and reliance on sole-source suppliers were some of the identified concerns.
The report also assessed the risks in space, electronics, cybersecurity, soldier systems, radar and electronic warfare, ground systems, nuclear matter warheads, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense and materials sectors. Although the U.S. remains the top exporter for defense systems, the country saw its naval weapons exports worldwide drop to 17 percent in 2017 from 63 percent in 2007.