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India catching up Artificial Intelligence (AI) weaponization Race among US, China and Russia

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. AI is also a dual-use technology, AI systems are being employed by both civilian and military, and, toward beneficial and harmful ends.


Militaries are also racing to employ AI-enhanced surveillance, communications and data-exploitation, autonomous vehicles and swarms to dominate future battlefield.


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. A  Harvard Kennedy School study concludes AI could revolutionize war as much as nuclear weapons have done.


AI systems can accurately analyze huge amount of data generated during peace and conflicts. 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.


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.


AI enhances of autonomy of unmanned Air, Ground and Underwater vehicles.  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.


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.



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.


The US has been using using AI-based technologies in their defence for a long time. In 2014, former Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel announced the “Third Offset Strategy” stating that rapid advances in artificial intelligence will define the next generation of warfare. Ever since then, there has been a substantial increment in the budget of AI-led projects under the defence budget.


According to one report, the US Defence Department will be setting aside $4 billion toward AI and ML-related R&D activities in fiscal 2020, which is a substantial jump from the 2019 fiscal spending. As part of the defence budget, the military is working on 222 AI R&D activities at a combined $1.6 billion. If you look at the entire US budget for 2020, it provides an enormous $134.1 billion for Federal R&D, including the conduct of R&D and investments in R&D facilities and equipment.


Though Russia lacks sufficient budgetary support and a lack of general infrastructure that supports AI research for defence purposes, It  is on its way to close the gap and started deploying artificial intelligence capabilities in the military.  Of the 388 scientific schools of the Russian Ministry of Defence, 279 are concentrated in military schools. Most of them are actively engaged in research in the field of artificial intelligence, robotics, military cybernetics and other promising areas. In 2017, Kalashnikov, the Russian defence manufacturer, announced that it had developed a range of robots that use AI to identify targets and make independent decisions.


China is also not far behind, In JULY 2017, CHINA’S government issued a sweeping new strategy with a striking aim: draw level with the US in artificial intelligence technology within three years, and become the world leader by 2030. China aims to dominate the next generation of “intelligentized” warfare, relying on “long-range, precise, smart, stealthy and unmanned weapons platforms.”


China is advancing fast in many technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum, genetic engineering, 5-G broadband technology and the “Internet of Things.” This is of concern to India as the result of future battles will favour the one which has a technological edge over its adversary and Beijing is way ahead of India in this regard. Many futuristic technology areas are emerging in which there is very low level of technology readiness within the country and which are expected to have a strategic impact in future defence and security systems.


Chief General of Indian Army, Bipin Rawat  at the National Conference on ‘Self Reliance in Defence Manufacturing’ emphasized that it is high time to focus on incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data into the Indian Armed Force’s system. He also stated that the nation’s northern rival, China was spending “huge money” on this technology.


Talking about the future, how tech will be part of the warfare, he also stated that in the future there will be a time when apart from guns and rifles, the nation will witness a lot of non-contact warfare and they are going to be fought in the cyberspace. It is high time to start understanding the relevance of AI and Big Data computing and how to incorporate this in into the defence system.


With government initiatives such as Digital India, AI has gotten a significant boost over the last few years. The government is using AI widely to manage traffic flows, improve their digital exchange systems, and improve criminal investigations. In the industry, AI is being deployed for several operations like inventory tracking and management, data sharing and perception, enhanced customer experience, improved hiring processes, data mining, and optimisation for businesses. The AI market in India is expected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2% and reach US$7.8 billion in total revenues by 2025.


Indian Military has also stepped up the use of AI in Military.  According to news reports, a multi-stakeholder task force on the strategic implementation of AI was set up which included members from the Government. The members included DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings, National Cybersecurity Coordinator, ISRO and BARC. Recently, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that 25 defence-specific AI products would be developed by 2024.


The officials said the application of AI in the surveillance of India’s borders with China and Pakistan could significantly ease the pressure on armed forces personnel guarding the sensitive frontiers. China has been pouring in billions of dollars into AI research and machine learning.

Indian Thrust on Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) created a multi-stakeholder task force for Strategic Implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Defence in February 2018 which gave its report in June. Based on the recommendations of the report, it led to the adoption of the creation of the institutional framework for AI policy implementation with guidelines for the country’s defence forces. In February 2019, the ministry established a high-level Defence AI Council (DAIC) under the chairmanship of Minister of Defence assigned with the task of providing strategic direction towards the adoption of AI in defence.


In an ambitious defence project, the Indian government has started work on incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the operational preparedness of the armed forces in a significant way that would include equipping them with unmanned tanks, vessels, aerial vehicles and robotic weaponry. The move is part of a broader policy initiative to prepare the Army, Navy and the Air Force for next generation warfare and comes amid rising Chinese investments in developing critical applications of AI for its military.


As per reports, DPSU has been directed to build AI-enabled products and AI-based tools for sensor data analysis, predictive maintenance and situational awareness. A INR 73.9 crore project has been sanctioned under CAIR to build AI-based solutions to improve intelligence collation and analysis capabilities of Indian defence. In a similar vein, another project called Energy Harvesting Based Infrared Sensor Network for Automated Human Intrusion Detection was sanctioned for about INR 1.8 crore.


Secretary-defence production Ajay Kumar  said a framework was being finalised under which industry and defence forces could work together to create a strong base for AI in defence systems. “We need to work on a partnership model which should be different from a buyer- seller proposition while fully leveraging capabilities of the industry,” he said, adding state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would be a major player in the project.


The central government is promoting projects on AI. “Under the iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence) scheme of the Union Government, more than 600 applications were received. 44 were finally shortlisted out of which seven are on AI for which government is ready to give a financial support up to Rs 1.5 crore,” said Mudit Narain, representative of IDEX.


Defence minister unveils 75 recently developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies

During the first-ever “AI in Defence” symposium and exhibition, which was held by the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi in July 2022, Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled 75 recently developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.


The items that were introduced as a part of the “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” celebrations cover a range of topics. Lethal autonomous weapon systems; autonomous/unmanned/robotic systems; block chain-based automation; command, control, communication, computer & intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance; cyber security; human behaviour analysis; intelligent monitoring systems; manufacturing and maintenance; simulators/test equipment; and speech/voice analysis using Natural Language Processing are some of these.


Three AI products created by DPSUs were showcased at the event. These products include Driver Fatigue Monitoring System, developed by Bharat Earth Movers Limited, AI-enabled Voice Transcription or Analysis software, and AI-enabled evaluation of Welding defects in X-rays of Non-destructive Testing, developed by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers. These goods are anticipated to give the Defense PSUs access to new markets.


The Raksha Mantri acknowledged the significant efforts being made by the MoD, Armed Forces, DRDO, DPSUs, and Industry to provide cutting-edge, domestic AI solutions for defence and to create cutting-edge technology. He reaffirmed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of making India a “Global Hub for AI” and of creating AI-enabled and AI-led applications to promote social welfare and national security.


“We have begun integrating AI applications in remotely operated vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, etc. We must advance in this approach if we are to create autonomous military systems. To avoid falling behind the technological curve and to ensure that we can fully utilise technology for our services, it is crucial that technologies like AI and Big Data are introduced into the defence sector at the appropriate time “said he.


The Raksha Mantri further stated that numerous MoUs had been inked with the business community in order to promote AI applications in the Services more quickly. Numerous AI-related challenges have also been issued as part of the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) projects.


Radio Frequency Spectrum Management, Underwater Domain Awareness, Satellite Image Analysis, and Friend or Foe Identification System are a few of the fields where there are obstacles. He asked the business community and start-ups to look into fresh possibilities and cooperate with the government to secure complete autonomy in the area of AI technology.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be applied in the Indian Navy

The Indian Navy plans to launch major projects that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Along with the centres of excellence, the Navy has organised seminars and workshops with academics and experts for its personnel, focussing on capacity building. An official stated that the Navy is progressing around 30 AI projects that encompass autonomous systems, language translation, predictive maintenance, inventory management, text mining, perimeter security, maritime domain awareness, and decision making. The AI initiatives are envisaged to have both tactical and strategic level impacts.


Regarding their upcoming venture, in a statement, the Indian Navy announced they are currently in the process of creating a centre of excellence (CoE) in AI at INS Vasura. Located at Jamnagar, INS Valsura has already been designated as the CoE in the field of big data and a state-of-the-art lab on AI and Big Data Analysis (BDA) was set up in January 2020. The Navy has formed an AI core group, which meets twice a year for all initiatives related to AI and ML. It conducts periodic reviews of AI projects to ensure adherence to the promulgated timelines. The Navy also conducts training in AI/ ML across all levels of speciality for its officers and sailors.


In modern naval warfare, surface warships encounter hostile threats from air, surface, underwater and shore.  “By fusing sensor data, the Fleet Units at sea form a more accurate and reliable view of its environment for an intelligent situational awareness. Sensor data fusion provides a complete and accurate picture of its surroundings. The techniques that surround multisensor data fusion make up a very complex topic. Data processing techniques that associate, aggregate and integrate data from different sources help the system to build knowledge about certain events and environments, which is not possible using individual sensors independently,” says Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert.


Outlining the advantages of AI concepts, Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert, says that this will help in identifying potential threats unambiguously and immediately using AI; it helps the command team make informed decision faster; rapidly detects and evaluate potential threats removing anomalies and AI is inherently designed to integrate itself into existing warship equipment suits to optimize their exploitation.  The  flight trajectory of the enemy supersonic air targets can be quickly acquired with accuracy using Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Deep learning(DL) data science.


The data and algorithms used in predicting missile engagement range define a Weapon Engagement Zone (WEZ). The WEZ algorithms are contained within the missile’s fire control computer onboard the ship. These values are calculated continuously in real time during flight with respect to a tracked target while the missile is still on the launcher. The WEZ information is displayed to the Operator, allowing the Command to make informed decisions when launching a missile.


Kulshreshtha said that use of an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) to perform the function for WEZ computation can be achieved by recording practice missile firing data and using this to train a multi-layer ANN using a specialised algorithm like Bayesian.


However, there are multiple factors which may emerge as a hindrance in effective implementation of AI in the Indian Navy, beginning with lack of Data science talent internally to identify AI issues themselves! Mostly, the AI initiative for Navy has to emerge from within the organisation, rather than driven by external technology professionals. This is crucial since commercially available platforms are ‘data-scientist’ oriented solutions which Navy may find as undeveloped eco-system for enterprise-level exploitation, points out Kulshreshtha, who is behind several critical indigenous technologies for the Indian Navy.


According to him, the existing Tactical Data Link is an issue requiring a re-look to avoid it being a limitation for Naval Data servers connectivity with warships deployed at sea. Also, the role of manpower intensive work within firmly established Naval procedures is another complex issue to be overcome in the present machine age. Finally, the fears associated with AI becoming a self-learning monster too has limited reconnoitring opportunities due to lack of knowledge.


Indian Air Force Joins The Artificial Intelligence Race; Aims To Boost Ops Capability Of IAF Fighter Jets

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has established a Center of Excellence (CoE) for the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its warfighting capabilities, becoming the first among the three armed services of India. On 10 July 2022 at Air Force Station Rajokri, New Delhi, Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS), inaugurated the Indian Air Force Center of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence (AI COE) under the aegis of Unit for Digitisation, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Application Networking.


Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, addressing the gathering, said that “IAF has taken proactive steps to embed Industry 4.0 and Al-based technologies in its war-fighting processes. The AI COE with high-end computers and big data storage capabilities, coupled with full-spectrum Al software suites, would substantially enhance the operational capability of IAF”.


The Al-based applications are being developed with inhouse expertise in coordination with various Public Sector Units, Medium Small Micro Enterprises and leading academia in the field of Artificial Intelligence, the Air Marshal added.


A Big Data Analytics and Al Platform has been commissioned in the IAF’s Al Center, for handling all aspects of Analytics, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Neural Networks and Deep Learning algorithms. The high-end compute requirements would be undertaken by the latest Graphical Processing Unit-powered servers, the press brief by the Ministry of Defence said.


Army to incorporate AI on Battlefield

“Army will adopt Artificial Intelligence  (AI) in next two-three years and it will be first used in mechanised forces,” said South Western Army Commander Lieutenant General Alok Kler  said. He was speaking at the Sapt Shakti Seminar in Artificial Intelligence here.


Indian Army  now plans to implement Artificial Intelligence  in wider range. While foot soldiers are the mainstay of the Army, with AI information gathering, decision making and force reactions will become stronger and precise. “Artificial Intelligence  is very, very necessary from information to decision making process to destruction of military capability. In the beginning, it will be constructive one – helping the commanders in decision making and making sure that information be converted into intelligence,” Kler said. He added, “Initially, it will help in constructive manner but soon we will have to take into account the disruptive use of Artificial Intelligence.”


Artificial Intelligence is an emerging disruptive technology which has gained prominence and is affecting civil andmilitary domain across the globe. Indian Army  organised a seminar on Artificial Intelligence to bring together professionals in the field like defence, industry, academia Defence officers and experts to brainstorm the way ahead with an objective to identify and conceptualise AI technology for applications on platforms for the future battlefield. The main purpose of the seminar was to ascertain the gaps existing in the military technology and to find the way forward for equipping the Army to deal with the threats emanating in the neighbourhood.


The seminar organised by the Jaipur-based South Western Command of the Indian Army  focused on how Artificial Intelligence  can enhance capabilities and make mechanised warfare more efficient. Lieutenant General Kler said main perspective of this seminar is how to use Artificial Intelligence  at the time of war.


He said, “While I am aware that our tanks and combat vehicles are called swarms, but Artificial Intelligence  lends itself to every aspect of military decision making. When I say about military decision making, I’m talking about… from the ground to space to water to air. The artificial intelligence will assist every service.”


India Doubles Down On Use Of AI In Defence With AI-Enabled Night Vision Device

As part of its strategy to increase commitment to AI, the Indian military will soon use AI-enabled device for night vision. According to news reports, the Army Design Bureau has built a device that will warn soldiers of unusual activity across different terrains and in high altitude areas. A senior officer from the Indian military shared that AI-based night vision device will be helmet mounted and in addition to this, there will be a wristband attached to it, which vibrates when the device picks up on movement in the area.


News reports hint that the device was mooted during the ARTECH summit. In addition to the AI-enabled device for night vision, the soldiers also have access to live translator, that helps soldiers positioned along Line of Actual Control, China to interact with Chinese soldiers. The device translates Mandarin to Indian languages.


Indian Army Might Soon Predict Stone Pelters In J&K, Thanks To Technology By IIT Students

Indian Army has been struggling with stone pelters in Jammu & Kashmir for a long time now, and a group of students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Madras have decided to do something about it. As an aid to the army, the team of IITians has offered to use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect crowd behaviour.


The concept first gained visibility during the Army Technology Seminar-2019 in Delhi, an initiative by the Army Design Bureau to collaborate the army and the private sector for meeting the force’s requirements. Four IIT students presented how crowd analysis could be used in the prevalent situations in the J&K region, where stone pelters aim to distract the army personnels from carrying out their operations.


“Using action recognition algorithms, crowd density maps and analysis of live images coming in from CCTV cameras, it is possible to predict abnormal events including stone pelting. We think it could help the Indian Army that faces such attacks regularly in J&K,” explained S Raghav Vaidyanathan (student executive head – Centre for Innovation, IIT-Madras) to an HT correspondent.


Former army vice-chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd) said innovative solutions such as AI-assisted prediction of crowd behaviour could be tried out in J&K where the situation is most difficult. “Such innovations could lead to a good solution in the long term.”



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