Army Technology Seminar to Focus on Non – Contact Warfare
Warfare has always evolved faster than the war-fighter, with the latter often lagging behind the speed of technological change. At various points in history, technological change has also altered the nature of the physical fight in substantial ways.
Salience: Non – Contact Domain.
In recent times however, the impact of technology has assumed an altogether new and disruptive dimension. The change, in the view of some, is so profound as to take the focus away from the ‘contact’ dimension and the ‘physical’ fight. Geo – strategic realities are now being altered, often, without even a shot being fired. Some argue that the domain of ‘non-contact’ is now as important as ‘contact’; the virtual fight is assuming as much salience as the physical fight.
Dual Use Technologies / Emerging Domains.
It is also a truism that science has always had an intimate connect with the military, with various fields of scientific research being driven by military needs / influences. Given the reality of short technological cycles, the rapid pace of obsolescence and rising costs, it has become imperative today, to align the technological aspirations of the military with similar capacities available in the civilian domain, giving rise to the phenomenon of dual use technologies. We need therefore, to first and foremost, match military aspirations with what science can realistically deliver. Thereafter, we need to examine the prospects of military application / utility in the domains of dual use technologies, adapted to military needs: Lethal Autonomy, Long Range Precision, Assured Position, Navigation & Timing Technologies, Directed Energy Platforms, the Cyber Domain and AI. These technologies, especially their convergence, offer limitless opportunities.
Technology has brought us to a crucial threshold in humanity’s relationship with war. In future wars, machines may make life-and-death engagement decisions all on their own. Militaries around the globe are racing to deploy robots at sea, on the ground, and in the air- more than ninety countries already have autonomous drones patrolling the skies. These robots are increasingly autonomous, and many are armed. They operate under human control for now, but what happens when a Predator drone has as much autonomy as a Google car? What authority should we give machines over the ultimate decisions of life or death?
Long Range Precision.
Capacities in Long Range Precision add greatly to a nation’s deterrence while adding to the cart of military options is the ‘non – contact’ domain. Precision at long range however, remains a major challenge. A vector can fly fast and to great distance, but precision even at 30 km is difficult to achieve with consistency. What does science offer, therefore, to make long distance precision a consistent, military reality?
Assured Position, Navigation and Timing (A-PNT) Technologies.
The potential vulnerabilities of the military’s over – dependence on GPS and GNSS data are driving the demand for alternate technologies. In a GPS / GNSS denied environment, ensuring the availability of accurate Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) information for a soldier is critical. The proposition is propelling the development of sensor technologies and fusion algorithms, to include jamming and spoofing protection capabilities which should be scalable, modular, as also offer reliable and accurate redundancies. Is it possible to create and amalgamate new physics, new devices, and new algorithms to avoid over reliance on GPS, in the military domain?
Directed Energy Weapons.
Technology can now harness Directed Energy for the development of weapons with significant destructive Electronic Attack capability. Directed Energy Weapons (DEWS) such as High-Power Lasers (HPL), High Power Microwaves (HPM), Charged Particle Beams (CPB), etc, have applications against a broad spectrum of targets in both – the strategic and tactical domains. DEWS technologies have shown considerable promise in countering rockets, artillery shells, mortars and drones. What could we realistically expect over the next couple of decades in the field of DEWS?
The Cyber Domain.
The cyberspace of a nation unlike other domains which have physical attributes, is part of the global cyberspace and cannot be isolated. It has also become a decisive arena for modern warfare. What precise tools do we need to create in terms of cyber capabilities?
AI technologies hold great promise to aid military decisions, enhance combat effectiveness and minimise human causalities. Military applications of AI are manifesting in the realms of Intelligence Preparation of Battlefield (IPB), Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR), AI driven Targeting, Fire Control, Vertical Lift, Predictive Maintenance, HR and Health Diagnostics. The advent of AI is poised to transform our approaches to warfighting. How best could we leverage AI in the Indian context?