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Civil military integration strategy boosts Dual use technologies to foster Military innovation

Historically and during the cold war military technology programs drove many commercial successes like Nuclear power, GPS, Internet, Computers, Jet Engines, semiconductor and integrated circuits, and these were driven by Department of Defense’s comprehensive and well-resourced investment plans.   The internet grew out of a military research project.  Global Positioning System (GPS) is based on network of satellites set up by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s. Radars developed before World War II by military are now used in many civilian applications including air traffic control and weather forecasting. Invention of Jet engines and other aircraft technologies is now enabling the growth of Air travel. Drones which are becoming increasingly popular for surveillance and photography in commercial and civilian use can be traced to military.


Today the situation has changed radically. The total federal spending on R&D has fallen to 3-4% of the budget, and private industry spends much more than government does. Military R&D is also characterized by low levels of productivity of the investment. US Commerce Department estimates that a commercial patent requires on average ten man-years of industrial R&D to be developed, and a thousands man-years for the R&D that the Defense Department and NASA contract out or perform in-house. (Melman 1983: 178). The technology innovation have outpaced military innovations in many areas like in communications and ICT and also become more decentralized.


Now military has turned to commercial sector to tap technologies are being driven by the commercial sector such as big data, analytics, cyber defense, autonomy and robotics which are dual use, useful both in both private sector and Defense. This is driving various countries to look to industry to sustain innovation and maintain technology superiority by investing in dual use technologies. Dual-Use Technology – comprises goods and technologies developed to meet commercial needs but which may be used either as military components or for the development or production of military systems.


The COTS products allow military to reap the benefits of commercial R&D, cost reduction due to economies of scale in manufacturing of COTS and take advantage of the large-scale support and logistics available. Additionally, the ability to adopt COTS technology to conform to international interoperability standards enables the military to communicate between different services, and also with coalition and alliance partners, writes Charlie Kawasaki.


If government agencies don’t embrace commercial innovation, the consequences could be grave, according to a panel of experts discussing the implications of space as a warfare domain. “The U.S. government’s ability to maintain dominance in space will be heavily dependent on their ability to work quickly to take advantage of all the commercial innovation we’re talking about here,” said Chris DeMay, HawkEye 360 chief technology officer and co-founder. “We see enemy nations investing in their own companies with parallel capabilities that will exceed ours if the U.S. government can’t continue to invest at a faster rate.”


“When we put a man on the moon, there were probably 10,000 NASA contracts to invent everything from aluminum foil to Tang, the breakfast drink,” Peterman said. “If NASA wanted to put a man or woman on Mars today, the fastest, most effective way to do that, might be to write a one or two-page statement of objectives and let Elon Musk, [Jeff] Bezos, Richard Branson and some others bid on that.”


Countries race to employ Dual use technologies

The US, China, and Russia are spending billions of dollars on AI, robotics, and other cutting-edge technologies, to assume leadership in their development and utilize these technologies to secure a future military advantage leading to a vigorous arms race in emerging technologies.


Many emerging technologies exhibit characteristics that could potentially affect the future character of war. For example, developments in technologies such as AI, big data analytics, and lethal autonomous weapons could diminish or remove the need for a human operator. This could, in turn, increase combat efficiency and accelerate the pace of combat—potentially with destabilizing consequences.


For example, AI, autonomy, and other emerging technologies are being employed to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned surface and subsurface naval vessels, and vehicle swarms. Further, they are being designed to search their targets and even take decisions to strike them on their own. In the cyberspace realm, a variety of offensive and retaliatory cyberweapons are being developed for use against hostile states.


Civil-military integration strategy to boost Dual-use technologies

In many countries, Military firms are state-owned enterprises (SOEs) which are generally marred by redundancy in personnel and low efficiency of productivity. “In terms of cost, capacity and volume, it would be hard for the military to beat what commercial industry is doing,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager for Hughes Network Systems’ Defense and Intelligence Systems Division.


In contrast, civilian companies need to survive in a fast-changing, competitive market but are nonetheless attracted by high and stable military demand. These issues encourage the transformation of military and civilian enterprises. Dual-use technology conversion can activate the interactions of the defense innovation and economic systems, thereby solving the problem of promoting a high-tech military technology under limited budgets, and improving economic value.


Military and civilian technological production occurs in two different market environments. Military technology has lengthy experimental and production cycles, with high technical demands and costs in an independent and autonomous market. In contrast, the civilian industry exists in an open and quickly changing macroeconomic environment, which needs lower prices, higher qualifications, and more product functions to attract consumers. Hence, when military and civilian firms enter each other’s market, they could face complex competitive and cooperative relationships in the process
of dual-use technology conversion. Countries have launched Civil-military integration strategies to boost dual-use technology conversion.



China’s leaders are continuing to promote “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. China’s leaders believe this integration will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. Deeply-rooted barriers, redundancies, and incompatibilities between the military and civilian sectors have yet to be resolved before this integration can occur. “It mainly means the military needs to take more advantage of civilian power in development of technology, from theory building to armour manufacturing,” said Ni Lexiong, Shanghai-based naval expert.


The military aspect of Chinese innovation is important, particularly at a time when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is undergoing a series of major modernisation and reform efforts in its conventional military capabilities. China seeks to leverage new and innovative emerging technologies to ‘leapfrog’ its main strategic competitor, the United States. The Chinese government has thus laid out a ‘whole-of-government approach’ to closing the gap with the West in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, unmanned and fully automated systems, quantum computing, space technology and hypersonic weapons.


Beijing is increasingly tapping private Chinese firms to acquire foreign technology for its military, according to officials and a new report. China’s strategy is creating new risks that foreign companies and researchers inadvertently help the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, acquire the technology and expertise it needs to enhance its already rapidly expanding capabilities, according to the C4ADS report released in Oct 2019.


China in Dec 2017,  unveiled the nation’s first cybersecurity innovation center developed under the national strategy of civil-military integration, amid Beijing’s call to step up its national cyber defenses. The freshly-established center has set the ambitious goal of setting up a cutting-edge cybersecurity defense system for the military to help win future cyber wars. It was set up under the instruction of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development and related military bodies, which will also supervise and manage the center during its operation by one of China’s leading cybersecurity companies, 360 Enterprise Security Group. According to Wu Yunkun, president of the security group, the center will focus on building cyber defense systems for military-related internet services and a threat intelligence sharing mechanism for military users in the first stage.


From April 14th to the 15th,2018 the first domestic military-civilian integration of the artificial intelligence industry development summit forum was held in the Qingdao West Coast New District. More than 300 representatives and scholars, who are from universities,enterprises and research institutes in the fields of military and civilian integration and artificial intelligence attended the forum. This forum aims to deepen military-civilian integration and artificial intelligence strategies, promoting the two-way transformation of military-civilian technology, building shared resources for military and civilian innovation, establishing the first-mover advantage,contributing to the construction of an innovative country and a powerful world of science and technology.


The second China Military and Civilian Integration Expo was held in Beijing’s National Convention Center. The three-day event provided an open platform for the exchange and integration of military and civilian technology.”Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.


Sophisticated technologies were displayed during the Expo: These include command information system, armored vehicles for transportation, the virtual combat training system, cyber security, anti-terrorism robots, drones, unmanned patrol boat, vehicle-mounted sonic weapons, emergency rescue system, as well as border monitoring and control system.


China is pursuing a massive military modernisation aimed at winning “local wars under conditions of informatisation,” and is actively using Western dual use technologies to upgrade its defence capabilities, the US Defence Department has said. Noting that China continues to modernise its military by incorporating Western (mostly US) dual-use technologies, which have also assisted its overall indigenous industrial, military industrial, and high-technology sector development, the report said one of China’s stated national security objectives is to leverage legally and illegally acquired dual-use and military-related technologies to its advantage.


In one example of military-civil fusion at work, detailed in the C4ADS report for the first time, privately held Beijing Highlander Digital Technology used a series of deals across Europe and Canada to build up China’s military, including by contributing technology to the country’s first aircraft carrier. The company touts its role in China’s defense industry on its Chinese-language website and in company filings, including a claim in its 2017 annual report that its products are featured on “all models” of Chinese warships, according to C4ADS.



U.S. officials expressed worries over China’s civil-military strategy and its threat of transfer of dual-use technologies, as well as about the long-term competitive challenge, should this initiative prove successful in improving synergies within China’s innovation ecosystem. In response US has launched many policies, For instance, MCF was among the rationales for the reform and expansion of export controls to include certain “emerging” and “foundational” technologies, as well as for the addition of companies and universities to the “Entity List” and “Unverified List” that the Department of Commerce maintains.


US itself has launched many defense innovation initiatives intended to increase investments, explore novel mechanisms for rapid procurement, and improve the Pentagon’s capacity to leverage commercial technologies. In November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new Defense Innovation Initiative, which included the Third Offset Strategy. Hagel said, “This new initiative is an ambitious department-wide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.” Unlike the first two offset strategies, the third one could rely on commercially driven technology such as robotics, autonomously operating vehicles, guidance and control systems, visualization, biotechnology, miniaturization, advanced computing, big data analytics and additive manufacturing.


The Defense Department is trying to speed up access to innovative commercial technologies through a variety of contracting mechanisms like other transaction authority as well as pilot and pathfinder programs aimed at testing new technologies and system architectures. However, the Defense Department faces cultural challenges when it tries to quickly adopt commercial technology, said Ken Peterman, Viasat Government Systems president. Private sector innovation in space, cybersecurity and mobile networking are prompting changes in acquisition policy, practice and culture, Peterman said. “An acquisition system predicated on invention has to turn into one that can assess, adopt, apply and then evolve more effectively than ever before,” he added.


US DoD has launched Long-Range Research and Development Program Plan (LRRDP) to attract IDEAS from across the defense industrial base, commercial industry, government and individuals to identify the “art of the possible” for future National Security systems. DOD has created a hub Defense Innovation Unit (DIUx) as a core initiative to increase DoD’s access to innovative, leading-edge technologies from high-tech, start-up companies and entrepreneurs. The goal is to preserve the nation’s technological superiority, by integrating the rapidly evolving commercial technologies within military systems and concepts of operations.


US ‘s Dual Use Science and Technology (DUST) Program encourages partnerships between the DOD and industry to develop dual-use technologies that have both military utility and commercial potential. The approach adopted by two countries whose combined spending on research and development is more than US $ 400 billion goes to prove a very important point – the said strategy cannot be simply written off.


Rajeev Gopal, advanced programs vice president for Hughes Network Systems’ Defense and Intelligence Systems Division, suggested government agencies gain access to commercial innovation with brief documents describing their needs instead of publishing 100 pages of requirements. He also suggested the government award fixed price contracts. “Give the high-level requirements and let commercial solutions emerge,” Gopal told SpaceNews. “With fixed price contracts, there is some risk but there is also flexibility to innovate.”


In US Civil military integration is giving mixed results . On one hand are companies like Microsoft, whose President Brad Smith has said that the software giant is willing to “provide the US military with access to all the technology” it creates.  “We believe in the strong defence of the United States and we want the people who defend it to have access to the nation’s best technology, including from Microsoft,” Smith said. But on other sides Google has decided otherwise.


After protets by thousands of  its employees, Google has also decided not to compete for the Pentagon’s cloud-computing contract valued at as much as $10 billion, saying the project may conflict with its corporate values. The project, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI, involves transitioning massive amounts of Defense Department data to a commercially operated cloud system.




Apart from US, EU is also considering how China’s quest to become a leading innovator in emerging technologies could affect the interests of the European Union and its member states.


In December 2013, the European Council itself tasked the European Defence Agency and other bodies to better exploit civil-military synergies. The European council suggested “Desegmentation of civil and military research”, by allowing funding to flow from one side to the other, major spin-offs between defence and civil research could be achieved. “It is worth remembering that few technologies are military or civil by nature, especially at low technological readiness.


China is also acquiring dual use technologies of US and Europe  through cyber espionage and other means. The EU Council on Foreign Relations reports that, “Since the Cultural Revolution, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has acquired civilian industries, which it has helped to protect in stormy times, and which have become a source of profits for the military.” “Dual use development has provided an indirect way to acquire foreign technologies, which could eventually be transferred to weapons production.” Dual use technologies include information technology, microelectronics, aerospace, and other commercial technologies that can be adopted for military purposes.


In their new report “Emerging technology dominance: what China’s pursuit of advanced dual-use technologies means for the future of Europe’s economy and defence innovation,” Meia Nouwens (International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS) and Helena Legarda (MERICS) outline the actions Europe should take to protect its own innovations. The EU does not have strong, coordinated strategies to promote the development of indigenous dual-use technologies or to protect Europe’s indigenous innovation. As a result of this patchwork regime, China is either catching up to, or surpassing, European capabilities regarding most of these technologies through a ‘whole-of-government’ regulatory framework and financial investment, as well as by accessing European innovation and technology through a variety of means.


In December 2013, the European Council itself tasked the European Defence Agency and other bodies to better exploit civil-military synergies.

This issue should be tackled in three ways:

Desegmentation of civil and military research

If we want the civilian and defence worlds to effectively cross-feed each other, then it is necessary to proceed with the desegmentation of civil and military research. By allowing funding to flow from one side to the other, major spin-offs between defence and civil research could be achieved. “It is worth remembering that few technologies are military or civil by nature, especially at low technological readiness. Only when applied and used in a given system does a specific technology become military or commercial,” says EDU.


Optimization and prioritization of technology-based production capabilities

The application of innovative technologies often requires considerable investments to move from the lab to serial production. And very often, such investments are only viable if this production is designed to address all potential markets: civil, defence and space. The European Defence Agency, in close cooperation with the Commission and industry, is investigating which key enabling technologies need a priority and focused investment effort to sustain the European supply chain. These are technologies such as components (silicum, gallium arsenide, infrared detectors), carbon fibre or optical devices. Europeans need to invest in these domains to level the playing field then to define priorities on related key industrial capabilities.


Increase funding for defence research
Defence research budgets have been cut by 20% over the last six years. The risk is real to lose the ability to reach critical mass in a number of technology areas. This would not only jeopardise Europe’s strategic autonomy, but would also impede the long-term competitiveness of its high-tech commercial industry. It has been said that defence and space are to aviation what Formula One is to the automotive industry: a formidable cradle of innovation and technological breakthroughs.

The situation is all the more worrying since, according to a study commissioned by the European Defence Agency, the multiplier effect on GDP growth for an investment in defence research & technology is 12 to 20 times higher than in other areas of public spending. Therefore, investment in defence R&T must be a logical component of any comprehensive growth policy.



Apart from US,  Australia, New Zealand and the European Union are also considering how China’s quest to become a leading innovator in emerging technologies could affect the interests of the European Union and its member states.


Australian  small to medium enterprises have often found it difficult to engage with Defence due to the fragmented nature of innovation programs and complex entry processes. The Australian  Government is  implementing a new approach to Defence innovation that will address these barriers and more effectively access the potential of Australian defence industry to innovate.This new approach will provide greater transparency of Defence needs, seed and nurture innovative technologies and the companies developing them, and develop regulatory and cultural processes to facilitate innovation.


It had launched the Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program that aims to show Australian Defence Force (ADF) users how leading edge technology can be integrated quickly into existing, new, enhanced or replacement high-priority capabilities. The CTD program is not a grants program; rather it is a collaborative activity conducted under contract between Defence and industry, or research organisations, to deliver a demonstration of the capability potential of new technology. The program’s emphasis is on technology in Australian / New Zealand industry that is going to provide capability advantages for Defence and allow Australian / New Zealand industry to position itself to provide in-service capabilities and through-life-support.


Spurred on by the strategic competition between the US and China, Japan’s latest defence White Paper (2021)  calls for greater civil–military integration to help push on its advanced technology base. The White Paper states that strategic competition between the US and China is becoming ‘more prominent’ across the political, economic and military realms and that ‘competition in [the] technological field is likely to become even more intense’.


The paper also puts forward fifth-generation wireless networks and 3D computing for the first time as examples of advanced technologies in the civilian sector that have military applications, in addition to artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technologies, as highlighted in previous papers. Against this backdrop, the paper emphasises that Japan’s research and development in defence technologies is much smaller in scale than not only the United States and China, but also in comparison with other major and regional economies, such as the United Kingdom, the EU, and South Korea.


The 2021 White Paper highlights several new initiatives launched in the fiscal year 2021 (April 2020 to March 2021) intended to identify and foster basic research with defence applications or ‘spin-ons’. It reveals that the Japanese MoD is reviewing its 2016 ‘Medium to Long-Term Defense Technology Outlook’ – the ministry’s estimate of S&T trends over the subsequent 20 years – to address how Japan could strategically apply critical technologies such as AI to defence. It also outlines several organisational developments in Japan’s defence-equipment procurement agency, the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA). One is the establishment of the Future Capabilities Development Center, which will enhance the defence equipment R&D system using advanced technologies. This includes R&D that enables cross-domain operations, including new domains, such as space, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to work with firms to harness technologies that have both military and commercial uses to spur industrial innovation, said the sources, which are helping devise the policy. The idea would be for NEDO to identify promising technologies and then partner with companies on the research to see if it appealed to customers both at home and abroad, they added. NEDO’s role would end at the research stage.


The sources said the plan would accompany a reorganisation already underway at NEDO to make it resemble the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funds a wide range of research with military applications. Beneficiaries from the plan could include Japanese makers of robots, autonomous vehicles, sensors and ceramics along with advanced nanotechnology. Dual-use research could help firms such as Toray Industries (3402.T), the world’s leading maker of carbon fibre, stay ahead of foreign competitors by creating lighter and stronger fibres for military markets that initially would be too expensive for commercial customers, added the sources. Toray supplies the carbon fibre that Boeing (BA.N) uses in the body of its 787 Dreamliner.



India needs to focus on developing dual-use technologies for both military and civilian agencies and special attention should be paid to research and development for manufacturing state-of-the-art defence platforms, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in October 2021. “We need to develop dual-use technologies so that both military and civilian sides benefit. We have to put special attention on research and development to provide state-of-the-art equipment to our armed forces,” he said. Mr. Singh said work is underway with a focus on futuristic technologies like nano-technology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and robotic technologies.


The contracting envelope of the defence budget makes it all the more imperative to create dual use infrastructure through civil-military fusion, Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat said, calling for integrating civil and military ecosystems to optimise resource utilisation. “The existing segregated nature of defence and commercial industry ecosystems restricts our capabilities and capacities in making defence equipment. Integrating civil and military technology efforts is the way forward towards for self-reliance,” Gen. Rawat said speaking at a webinar conducted by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies.


Indian Government formed  its defence planning committee (DPC) in April 2018, headed by the national security adviser, comprises three chiefs of staff, the defence secretary, the expenditure secretary, the foreign secretary and the chief of integrated defence staff. It is the first of its kind in terms of civil-military cooperation, and is seen as an alternative to the long-standing demand of the armed forces for a single point of contact to enable better synergy between military personnel and civilians in the defence ministry.


The Indian government recently approved a Defence Innovation Fund (DIF), which aims to create, “an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence,” according to a statement by Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre. The idea is to engage R&D organisations, academia and industry – including startups and “individual innovators,” providing them with funding to develop ideas, products and services that have the potential for future commercialisation. Initial funding for the scheme will be provided by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), with grants from government agencies and other not-for-profit organisations – both public and private – in prospect as the scheme matures.


In a parallel move the government has also launched a Technology Development Fund (TDF) which aims to support the development of defence and dual-use technologies not currently in use or development in India, thereby creating a culture of innovative development for defence applications. Providing grants for design and development of key defence technologies, TDF is administered by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).


Gen. Rawat said the feasibility of integrating civil, military airports to strengthen aviation safety, air space management and combat support capabilities must be examined. Satellites for remote sensing and reconnaissance, communication, positioning and navigation must also meet armed forces requirements with desired inbuilt encryption, he observed.


Stating that railway wagons and civil truck trailers must be manufactured for dual use, capable of transporting heavy military equipment including armoured fighting vehicles, Gen. Rawat said, “Construction of communication towers and electricity infrastructure along with rails, roads, bridges and tunnels in border States must be of specifications that facilitate use by armed forces as well.” He called for looking into civil-military convergence in storage and ware housing facilities for fuel oil lubricants, rations and ordnance supplies. Civil-military integration in infrastructure development holds the key to whole of nation approach towards national security, he stated.


Stating that a nation’s aspirations of becoming a regional power cannot rely on borrowed strengths, Gen. Rawat said Indian wars have to be won with Indian solutions. He said cooperation between government and commercial facilities in research and development, manufacturing, maintenance operations, production of similar components and sub-components on same production lines will optimise commercial and defence industrial base, maximize resource utilisation and reduce manufacturing and life cycle costs for defence equipment.


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