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Artificial Intelligence autonomising the battlefield with autonomous, smart and intelligent systems

Artificial Intelligence technologies aim to develop computers, or robots that match or exceed the abilities of human intelligence in tasks such as learning and adaptation, reasoning and planning, decision making and autonomy; creativity; extracting knowledge and making predictions from data.


Within AI is a large subfield called machine learning or ML. Machine Learning enables computers with capability to learn from data, so that new program need not be written. Machine learning Algorithms extract information from the training data to discover patterns which are then used to make predictions on new data.


Machine learning algorithms require large training data sets containing hundreds to thousands of relevant features. Careful selection, and extraction, of these feature sets are required for learning. To solve this challenge, Scientists turned to subfield within the machine learning, called brain-inspired computation which mimics some form or functionality of human brain.


Various deep learning architectures such as deep neural networks, convolutional deep neural networks, and deep belief networks have been applied to fields like computer vision, automatic speech recognition, natural language processing, and music/audio signal recognition where they have been shown to produce state-of-the-art results on various tasks many times exceeding human performance.


AI is also a dual-use technology, AI systems are being employed by both civilian and military, and, toward beneficial and harmful ends. AI can provide significant societal and economic benefits to Nations. It is predicted that the global AI market will exceed $100 billion by 2025. Accenture analyzed 12 developed economies and found that AI has the potential to double their annual economic growth rates by 2035. Militaries are also racing to employ AI-enhanced surveillance, communications and data-exploitation, autonomous vehicles and swarms to dominate future battlefield.


The economic and military benefits are driving intense AI Competition among the countries led by US, EU, China and Russia, with each planning to take a lead in this strategic technology.


In terms of patents and research publications China has become first followed by the US,  Europe, South Korea, Japan and India. Another Index which took broader factors of governance, skills and education, infrastructure and data, and government/public services found top three countries to be Singapore, the UK and Germany.


As we saw the AI technologies also require efficient hardware. US is presently a leader in computing chips and platforms however China is also fast catching up. AI systems also require availability of large amount data and China’s gigantic market size and digitization programs is generating large databases. Its government supported surveillance has created a big market for AI firms specializing in visual and facial recognition.


Artificial Intelligence Applications in Military

The transformative potential of AI on civilian and military systems and operations was realized early by many countries and led to their National plans for their development. AI has now heralded a new age of warfare  which is having a multiplier effect in all domains of warfare including  air, ground , sea, space and cyber and uses technology that is affordable and widely available.



Clausewitz wrote that: “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.” The next generation of military technology centres on clearing the fog of cognitive burden on the battlefield. Information management on the battlefield enabled through autonomy and automation are gaining increasing attention and importance.


Defense forces from different countries across the globe are embedding AI into weapons and other systems used on land, naval, airborne, and space platforms. Using AI in systems based on these platforms has enabled the development of efficient warfare systems, which are less reliant on human input. It has also led to increased synergy and enhanced performance of warfare systems while requiring less maintenance.


AI is enabling many military capabilities and operations such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, identifying targets, speed weapon development and optimization, command and control, logistics and developing war games. Adversaries could use AI to carry out information operations or psychological warfare.


Increasingly, one of the major problems on the contemporary battlefield is information overload; there is simply too much information that moves too quickly for a single soldier, or an entire unit to accurately digest, analyse, and use as a basis for effective decision-making.


AI is particularly useful for quickly and efficiently processing large volumes of data in order to obtain valuable information. AI can assist in culling and aggregating information from different datasets, as well as acquire and sum supersets of information from various sources.


AI systems can accurately analyze huge amount of data generated during peace and conflicts. This advanced analysis enables military personnel to then recognize patterns and derive correlations. It can quickly interpret information, which could lead to better decision making. It can fuse data from different sensors into a coherent common operating picture of the battlefield.


Autonomy of information management is key to ensuring information can be processed on the battlefield, in real time, and supplied to the people who require it. From augmenting our ability to detect new threats to analyzing countless variables, AI could transform surveillance and situational awareness. Militaries, especially DOD has also started using AI and machine learning for automated target-recognition tools bedded in video cameras.


There are reports about military researchers attempting to use an ANN to detect tanks amid foliage.  DARPA is also planning to use machine learning to understand rapidly increasing volume of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) information The amount of video data produced annually by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) alone is in the petabyte range, and growing rapidly. Full exploitation of this information is a major challenge. AI’s ability to process and analyze vast amounts of data has significant implications across the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) loop.


AI techniques are being developed to enhance the accuracy of target recognition in complex combat environments. These techniques allow defense forces to gain an in-depth understanding of potential operation areas by analyzing reports, documents, news feeds, and other forms of unstructured information. Additionally, AI in target recognition systems improves the ability of these systems to identify the position of their targets.


Capabilities of AI-enabled target recognition systems include probability-based forecasts of enemy behavior, aggregation of weather and environmental conditions, anticipation and flagging of potential supply line bottlenecks or vulnerabilities, assessments of mission approaches, and suggested mitigation strategies. Machine learning is also used to learn, track, and discover targets from the data obtained. For example, DARPA’s Target Recognition and Adaption in Contested Environments (TRACE) program uses machine learning techniques to automatically locate and identify targets with the help of Synthetic-Aperture Radar (SAR) images.


The AI systems can react significantly faster than systems that rely on human input; Therefore, AI is accelerating the complete “kill chain” from detection to destruction. This allows militaries to better defend against high-speed weapons such as hypersonic weapons which travel at 5 to 10 times the speed of sound.


Militaries  are increasingly facing  Anti-access /Area denial environment,  a set of overlapping military capabilities and operations designed to slow the deployment of adversary forces to a region, reduce the tempo of those forces once there, and deny the freedom of action necessary to achieve military objectives .


Autonomy to counter A2/AD environment

One of the technology to counter A2/AD environment is Autonomy enabled by AI. Artificial intelligence may allow robots and automated systems to act with increased autonomy. Robotics will enable the future force by making forces more effective across wider areas, contributing to force protection, and providing increased capabilities to maintain overmatch.


AI enhances of autonomy of unmanned Air, Ground and Underwater vehicles. Threat monitoring & situational awareness rely heavily on Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations. ISR operations are used to acquire and process information to support a range of military activities. Unmanned systems used to carry out ISR missions can either be remotely operated or sent on a pre-defined route. Equipping these systems with AI assists defense personnel in threat monitoring, thereby enhancing their situational awareness. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – also known as drones – with integrated AI can patrol border areas, identify potential threats, and transmit information about these threats to response teams. Using UAVs can thus strengthen the security of military bases, as well as increase the safety and efficacy of military personnel in battle or at remote locations.


The application of emerging AI technology creates the potential for affordable, interoperable, autonomous, and semi-autonomous systems that improve the effectiveness of Soldiers and units. Autonomy-enabled systems will deploy as force multipliers at all echelons from the squad to the brigade combat teams. Future robotic technologies and unmanned ground systems (UGS) will augment Soldiers and increase unit capabilities, situational awareness, mobility, and speed of action. Artificial intelligence will enable the deployment of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems with the ability to learn. Decision aids will reduce the cognitive burden and help leaders make rapid decisions.


It is enabling concepts like vehicle swarms in which multiple unmanned vehicles autonomously collaborate to achieve a task. For example drone swarms could overwhelm or saturate adversary air defensive systems.


Another technology found effective in such A2/AD environment is swarms which are enabled by swarm Intelligence. AI is also expected to empower autonomous and high-speed weapons to carry out collaborative attacks.   For example USAF wants swarm of cruise missiles capable of semi-autonomous, networked operation in order to defeat integrated air defense networks. Launching swarms of the weapons together and developing a system that allows them to act in cooperation with each other, potentially exchanging information among themselves on potential threats and other hazards, would make the missiles themselves more survivable, too. A low-cost system with a sensor package could turn the cruise missiles into disposable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets or loitering munitions that could wait for the best possible moment to attack.


AI and Cyber

AI is also transforming Cyber Security. Military systems are often vulnerable to cyber attacks, which can lead to loss of classified military information and damage to military systems. However, systems equipped with AI can autonomously protect networks, computers, programs, and data from any kind of unauthorized access. In addition, AI-enabled web security systems can record the pattern of cyber attacks and develop counter-attack tools to tackle them.

Military IOT

Rise of IoT devices has also make military interested in exploiting the IoT technologies to achieve significant efficiencies, improve safety and delivery of services, and produce major cost savings. It can also improve military effectiveness. Commanders can make better decisions based on real-time analysis generated by integrating sensors data supplied by sensors and cameras mounted on the ground, and manned or unmanned vehicles or soldiers.


Millions of IOT sensors enabled by geolocation technology, when deployed on a range of platforms can provide situational awareness to senior commanders and war-fighters on the ground, on the seas, and in the air. The efficiencies offered by automatic fusion and analysis of huge amount of data can provide information on enemy’s intent, capability and actual position.


IoT can enable a vital role by collecting, analyzing, and delivering the synthesized information in real time for expeditious decision making. This shall promote real-time information sharing and collaboration that enhance information quality and situational awareness, shorten the decision-making and command time, and increase joint operation efficiency. The combination of all of these elements enhances mission effectiveness.


Other suggested applications might include: using AIs to solve logistics challenges; to support war games; to automate combat in so-called manned-unmanned operations; to speed weapon development and optimization, and for identifying targets (as well as non-combatants).


AI is expected to play a crucial role in military logistics and transport. The effective transportation of goods, ammunition, armaments, and troops is an essential component of successful military operations. Integrating AI with military transportation can lower transportation costs and reduce human operational efforts. It also enables military fleets to easily detect anomalies and quickly predict component failures. Recently, the US Army collaborated with IBM to use its Watson artificial intelligence platform to help pre-identify maintenance problems in Stryker combat vehicles.


Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS)

AI systems are also divided into narrow and Artificial general AI (AGI). The current systems are predominantly narrow AI, which are purpose-built to perform a limited task. In future AGI systems would be able to learn, plan, reason, communicate in natural language, and integrate all these skills and apply them to any task.


One of the risks of General AI is that it would speed development of LAWS. These weapon systems that can make life and death decisions without human intervention. They will use sensor suites and AI based computer algorithms to autonomously classify a target as hostile, make an engagement decision and then guide a weapon to the target. Many organizations including UN have called for a global ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems.


AI is also being into military  weapons and systems to make them autonomous, smart and intelligent. US navy is  developing new weapon, called the Long Range Anti- Ship Missile, or L.R.A.S.M, a collaborative effort between Lockheed, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency, or DARPA. With a range of at least 200 nautical miles, LRASM is designed to use next-generation guidance technology to help track and eliminate targets such as enemy ships, shallow submarines, drones, aircraft and land-based targets. According to the Pentagon, this means that though targets are chosen by human soldiers, the missile uses artificial intelligence technology to avoid defenses and make final targeting decisions.



US Military AI

The Pentagon outlined its first AI strategy in a report released in Feb 2019. The plan calls for accelerating the use of AI systems throughout the military, from intelligence-gathering operations to predicting maintenance problems in planes or ships. It urges the U.S. to advance such technology swiftly before other countries chip away at its technological advantage. “Other nations, particularly China and Russia, are making significant investments in AI for military purposes, including in applications that raise questions regarding international norms and human rights,” the report says.


Since 2010, American intelligence agencies have been developing a top-secret “artificial brain” military AI system that they named — seriously — “Sentient.” Newly released confidential and classified documents first reported by The Verge describe the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)’s Sentient Program as a fully-integrated intelligence system that can coordinate satellite positions and may soon be used to manage battlefield operations during military engagements.


“It ingests high volumes of data and processes it,” said  Deputy director of NRO’s Office of Public Affairs Karen Furgerson    “Sentient catalogs normal patterns, detects anomalies, and helps forecast and model adversaries’ potential courses of action.” . Those forecasts in hand, Sentient could turn satellites’ sensors to the right place at the right time to catch ill will (or whatever else it wants to see) in action. “Sentient is a thinking system,” says Furgerson.


According to Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), 2020 will be a breakout year for the department when it comes to fielding A.I.-enabled capabilities.


Ongoing projects for the artificial intelligence (AI) push,  include predictive maintenance for the H-60 helicopter; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with an initial emphasis on wildfires and flooding; cyber sense-making, focusing on event detection, user activity monitoring, and network mapping; information operations; and intelligent business automation.


The biggest project for fiscal year 2020, he said, is what the Pentagon is calling AI for maneuver and fires: “With individual lines of effort or product lines oriented on warfighting operations; for example, operations intelligence fusion, joint all-domain command and control, accelerated sensor-to-shooter timelines, autonomous and swarming systems, target development, and operations center workflows.


Shanahan emphasized that the DoD believes that AI’s most valuable contributions will stem from how AI is used to make better and faster decisions; he said that this aspect includes gaining a deeper understanding of how to optimize human-machine teaming and stated JAIC’s goal of using AI to increase operational effectiveness, accelerate integration with autonomous systems, and enhance efficiency across the department.


“We are also embarking with DIU [Defense Innovation Unit] and the services’ Surgeons General, as well as many others, on a predictive health project,” Shanahan stated, “with several proposed lines of effort, to include health records analysis, medical imagery classification and PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] mitigation/suicide prevention. Our other major effort, one that is instrumental to our AI center of excellence concept, is what we are calling the Joint Common Foundation, or JCF. The JCF will be a platform that will provide access to data, tools, environments, libraries and to other certified platforms to enable software and AI engineers to rapidly develop, evaluate, test and deploy AI-enabled solutions to warfighters. It is designed to lower the barriers of entry, democratize access to data, eliminate duplicative efforts, and increase value added for the department. This platform will reside on top of an enterprise cloud infrastructure.”



China’s Military AI Thrust

The PLA anticipates that the advent of AI could fundamentally change the character of warfare, resulting in a transformation from today’s “informatized” (信息化) ways of warfare to future “intelligentized” (智能化) warfare, in which AI will be critical to military power. In July 2017, China released its own national-level AI development plan.


A February 4 piece in the South China Morning Post quotes a “senior scientist involved with the programme” as saying there is a project underway to update the computer systems on PLAN nuclear submarines with an AI decision-support system with “its own thoughts” that would reduce commanding officers’ workload and mental burden. The article describes plans for AI to take on “thinking” functions on nuclear subs, which could include, at a basic level, interpreting and answering signals picked up by sonar, through the use of convolutional neural networks. In case of an attack, the AI could act more quickly and without the potential hesitation or dissent of a human operator. A fast, automated response capability could help ensure potential adversaries know a nation is ready and willing to launch, the key to mutual assured destruction’s effectiveness as a deterrent.


China is looking to create a new generation of cruise missiles, which will have a high level of artificial intelligence, will be multifunctional and reconfigurable based on modular design according to a senior designer from China’s Aerospace and Industry Corp. “They will allow commanders to control them in a real-time manner, or to use a fire-and-forget mode, or even to add more tasks to in-flight missiles.”


The new Chinese weapon typifies a strategy known as “remote warfare,” said John Arquilla, a military strategist at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif. The idea is to build large fleets of small ships that deploy missiles, to attack an enemy with larger ships, like aircraft carriers. “They are making their machines more creative,” he said. “A little bit of automation gives the machines a tremendous boost.”


5 technology trends driving an intelligent military

This year’s Accenture Technology Vision identified five trends that are essential components of any intelligent defense organization: Citizen AI, extended reality, data veracity, frictionless business and Internet of Thinking.


The rise of non-traditional actors, cyberattacks and state-sponsored subversion is challenging democratic governance and creating an increasingly volatile operational and security environment for defense agencies. To address these threats, military organizations must be able to operate seamlessly and intelligently across a network of multinational partners.


Private AI: training AI as an effective troop member

AI could have a major impact for military organizations, including defense logistics and cybersecurity. Harnessing AI’s potential is no longer just about training it to perform a specific task: AI will increasingly function alongside people as a full-fledged member of a team. In the high-stakes world of defense, it’s especially important that AI systems act as trustworthy, responsible and efficient colleagues.


Extended Reality: The end of distance

Extended reality (XR), which includes virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), is the first technology to relocate people in both time and place—effectively eliminating distance.


For the defense sector, the ability to simulate and share a common view of an operational theatre is immensely powerful. Recently, Accenture created a mixed reality proof of concept using Microsoft HoloLens and gaming engine Unity that provides military personnel with an interactive map showing real-time location and status data for troops and resources on the ground. With a simple command, a user can order reinforcements or supplies, or create and test different scenarios through a mixed reality interface.


XR technology can also enhance operational command capabilities in the field. For example, AR goggles could provide dashboards and data visualizations where and when they are needed – such as at an operating base. XR also will have major implications for training, allowing soldiers and pilots to engage in highly realistic combat simulations.


The Internet of Thinking: intelligent distributed defense capabilities

Today’s technology infrastructures are designed around a few basic assumptions: enough bandwidth to support remote applications, an abundance of computing power in a remote cloud and nearly infinite storage. But the demand for immediate response times defies this approach.


Recent projections suggest that by 2020, smart sensors and other Internet of Things devices will generate at least 507.5 zettabytes of data. Trying to manage the computational “heavy-lifting” offsite will become limiting.


The need for real-time systems puts hardware back in focus: special-purpose and customizable hardware is making devices at the edge of networks more powerful and energy efficient than ever before. The next generation of military strategies ride on pushing intelligence into the physical world. Defense organizations have to embrace new operating models to enable high-speed data flows, harness the potential of distributed intelligence and successfully neutralize threats.


The defense sector is challenged to respond to new types of threat, political volatility and even new combat arenas, and acquiring new technology capabilities is a strategic imperative. Delivering greater situational awareness and the ability to respond rapidly to unpredictable adversaries requires investments in AI, edge computing and other emerging technologies. Likewise, today’s information architectures will need to be redesigned to collaborate quickly, effectively and securely.


Although it is not in doubt that AI is going to be part of the future of militaries around the world, the landscape is changing quickly and in potentially disruptive ways. AI is advancing, but given the current struggle to imbue computers with true knowledge and expert-based behaviours, as well as limitations in perception sensors, it will be many years before AI will be able to approximate human intelligence in high-uncertainty settings – as epitomized by the fog of war, writes M. L. Cummings International Security Department and US and the Americas Programme  in  Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare


Ultimately, AI is emerging as the biggest multiplier in Military and being embedded in every military platform, weapon, Network and system, from Soldiers to the entire Military enterprise and making them smart and Intelligent. For example, AI integrated with 5G and internet of things (IoT) are enabling smart military bases, soldier healthcare, and battlefield awareness.


Looking into the future, AI is enabling the next revolution in the military to “intelligentized warfare” in which there will be AI Versus AI, we will have to attack adversary AI systems and protect our own systems.


Artificial Intelligence in Military Market

The total Global Artificial Intelligence in Military Market is estimated to reach USD 13.71 Billion by 2028. The Global Market valued at a revenue of USD 6.62 Billion in the year 2021, and expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.9%.


The increase in spending on defense to improve AI capabilities is anticipated to augment the growth of the Artificial Intelligence In Military Market within the estimated period. According to USAspending.gov, the Department of Defense (DOD) had estimated to spend $1.10 Trillion distributed among its 6 agency sub-components. Further, as per Eurostat defence expenditure amounted to 1.3 % of GDP both for the EU and the euro area and the highest levels of total expenditure on defence were observed in Greece with 2.6 % of GDP followed by Latvia and Estonia both with 2.5 % of GDP. As seen from the data, the spending on defense sector in order to improve their defense systems is considerably increasing which in turn is likely to support the growth of the market. However, increasing concerns over possibility of errors in complex combat situations along with lack of standards and protocols for use of AI in military applications may hinder the growth of the market. Moreover, incorporation of quantum computing in AI coupled with increasing adoption of AI in predictive maintenance in military platforms is likely to create immense opportunities in the growth of the market in the years to come.


The increasing applications of AI in the military are expected to fuel the growth of the Artificial Intelligence In Military Market during the forecast period. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an important part of every industry including the military & defense industry. Military systems that are integrated with AI are capable of analysing larger volumes of data more efficiently and further help in driving meaningful insights from this data gathered. Artificial intelligence also improves self-regulation, self-control, and self-actuation of combat systems that are used in warfare due to its inherent computing and decision-making capabilities. Further, the advanced AI tech also helps to improve the accuracy of target recognition in the case of complex combat environments. These techniques allow gaining an in-depth understanding of potential operation areas and improves the ability of these systems to identify the position of their targets. Additionally, AI can be integrated with Robotic Ground Platforms (RGPs) and Robotic Surgical Systems (RSS) to offer remote surgical support and evacuation activities in combat environments. Thus, owing to the numerous benefits and applications of artificial intelligence is expected to fuel the adoption of AI-driven systems in the military sector.


North America has dominated the Global Artificial Intelligence In Military Market in 2021 and is likely to continue the same trend during the forecast period. The U.S. dominated the North America region in 2021. This is attributable to the rising government investment in artificial intelligence systems in the region. Furthermore, the presence of key manufacturers, exporters, and users of AI systems in the region along with increasing Ai spending to include advanced capabilities is also anticipated to encourage the adoption of artificial intelligence in the military.


Following are the Key Players: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Company, Northrop Grumman, Thales Group,Ibm,Bae Systems,General Dynamics,Nvidia,Soartech,Sparkcognition,Charles River Analytics,Saic,Harris Corporation,Boeing,Leidos,



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