The global defence spending was recorded at $1.8 trillion in 2018; the highest spending recorded, to date. The COVID-19 epidemic is likely to reduce defence spending as governments around the world allocate funds for both fighting the pandemic and reviving the economy. COVID-19 is a dual crisis—public health and economic downturn—unlike any other preceding financial or health crisis. Stresses in the financial system led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the collapse of the stock market, followed by a decrease in demand due to lower per capita income. The Dotcom burst was led by a collapse of the stock market.

Previous health emergencies, such as the outbreak of SARS or EBOLA, were limited in their geographical scope and the consequent effect on the world economy. COVID-19 is a supply-chain-led shock due to lockdown measures, which portends the winding down of businesses with consequent spill over onto demand and the financial system. The underlying demand and economy were healthy before the start of the crisis. Therefore, the restoration of supply and economy will depend on how quickly the disease is contained.

Examination of previous trends has shown that defence spending is a function of political uncertainty, GDP growth, and budget deficits, with political tension emerging as the dominant factor. Frost & Sullivan estimates that political uncertainty will increase due to attempts at political isolation of China which is being blamed for giving incorrect information on the true nature of the infection. This would be compounded by the actions of Russia and North Korea which seek to take advantage of the geopolitical chaos. In the near term (2020-2021), Frost & Sullivan estimates that the defence spending will stagnate or dip slightly, subject to political factors; however, in the long term, the defence spending is likely to go down by at least 10% as seen in the past.

This report will further investigate the effects of the crisis and its impact on the economy and defence spending, breaking down what will potentially happen into scenarios. Furthermore, the virus has had the biggest impact on global defence supply chains, which will be investigated in greater detail, such as a risk of greater supply chain solvency. A future outlook is provided, whereby an overview of the defence industry for the next 6 to12 months is discussed. Most importantly, the report will analyse six growth opportunities that will emerge from the crisis for companies to investigate and follow.