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In part one of this study, we gained insight into what disruptive technology truly is and its significance in modern warfare. We also took a glimpse at the threats that are looming at India’s borders, and how they have adapted disruptive technologies into their arsenals.

Part two of this study shall further focus on the various developments that disruptive technology has brought in, and the new-age weapons that have come forth as a result of this rapid development.

Disruptive Technology and the Future

With the art of warfare no longer following the norms that had been established through countless trials and errors, countries all over the world are now turning their attention to the research and development of weapons that can keep up with this change in the tide. Superpowers are further cementing their positions at the pinnacle, and challengers, new and old, are now vying to establish their foothold in this fierce race.

Given below are a list of disruptive technologies and weapons that have either already been adapted by militaries around the world, or are in the process of being developed into weapons that would give these respective armies the edge that is looking for

Quantum Technology

With quantum technology being a hot topic in the field of research and development for the past decade, it is no surprise that countries are now trying to militarize this concept. China now stands at the forefront in the development of quantum technology and its militarization.

If properly harnessed and utilized, it is speculated that quantum technology could pave way for the development of new fields such as quantum key distribution, quantum cryptanalysis, and quantum sensing, rewriting the way operations are carried out in warfare. Quantum computing can be used by militaries and defence planners to run huge simulations of military deployments.

Further speculations state that quantum technology could also give rise to hack resistant networks, and computational superiority, the kind the world has never seen before. The ripples that can be witnessed in the military arena once this technology is up and running is far too great to state on paper.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are slowly but steadily finding their way into the military domain. With various AR and VR applications being easily available to the public, it was only and matter of time before the military found ways to integrate this technology into their sphere.

The major application of AR and VR can be witnessed in the training of personnel. With on-ground training being costly, time-consuming, and incomparable to a real-life battlefield, training camps and boot camps have come with ways to use AR and VR to give soldiers training that can mimic a real-life scenario. AR/VR has also allowed defence personnel to enable concepts such as warfare simulations, spatial orientation, situational awareness, digital terrain and so on. This has managed to increase the efficiency of training as well as the planning of various operations. Synthetic Training Environments, Vehicle and flight simulations and medical training are few of the programs that boot camps all around the world have adapted and integrated into their training regimes.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are vehicles that operate on the ground without the need of human presence onboard. They could be called as the land counterparts of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). UGVs are of two broad types, remotely operated and autonomous. Autonomous UGVs have been developed with the integration of various technologies that help them to be self-acting and self-regulating, reducing the need for human intervention. UGV’s have the merit of being highly affordable, durable and possesses the benefits of size making them ideal for various defence applications across the globe.

Countries are now investing more and more in the development of UGVs. Milrem Robotics and QinetiQ North America have developed a modular UGV, “Titan UGV”, capable of undertaking various operations such as recon, rescue and transport. The Robotic Combat Vehicle by Textron and Uran-9 unmanned ground vehicle by Russia are few other UGVs that have made their way into the market. The DRDO of the Indian Ministry of Defence has also unveiled their very first multipurpose unmanned ground vehicle, simply dubbed as the “UGV”, capable of carrying out the various procedure for the armed and security services.

With advancements in technology and research, UGVs have also found ways to be smarter and smarter. Soon, these UGVs could reduce human interaction on the battlefield, leading to lesser loss of life, and more decisive battles between autonomous vehicles.

Swarm Technology

Drones once termed as a mere fictitious dream from a sci-fi movie, are now being a staple in the battlefield. With uses ranging from surveillance and recon, to search and rescue, and even carrying out remote attacks, countries have heavily invested in the development of newer and greater drone technology.

From this came the advent of the swarm technology, the next generation of drones that will decide the outcome of numerous military operations. But how is this swarm squadron different from normal drones? The answer lies in self-organisation. Not only are these swarms greater in number, but they also have the ability to take make decisions amongst themselves.  A swarm of interconnected, co-operative drones, that can work together to thwart adversaries is the basis behind the swarm technology.

Currently, at an experimental stage, countries are making huge strides in the development of this technology. The British Armed Forces are planning to release a so-called “Swarm Squadron”, in a matter of few years. The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has been developing what they call as “Gremlins”, drones that look like missiles, who when dropped from planes have the capability to perform recon over a vast area. When properly developed and integrated, Swarm technology has the potential to be the next staple that can rule the battlefield.

Conclusion

With the advent of cutting-edge disruptive technologies, age-old warfare tactics are now facing the trials of time. Our rivals have already adapted to the ever-changing scenario and thus have a tactical advantage out there on the battleground. With India now realising the vitality of disruptive technologies, it is only a matter of time before the chasm between us and the existing superpowers reduce. Investment and resources are now being poured rapidly into the research and development of a whole new array of disruptive technologies and weapons, and its effect will be seen not only in the near term but would also pave the way for long term changes in the way warfare is perceived. India has taken the first steps towards the inevitable realisation that disruptive technology is indeed the future of its military might.

Title image courtesy:https://insights.samsung.com/

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of India and Defence Research and Studies

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Yadhu Krishna Menon

By Yadhu Krishna Menon

Yadhu Krishna Menon is a Research Associate under training at Defence Research and Studies with a great passion for military technologies. He is a Mechanical Engineer by profession. He is a qualified content developer and a creative scriptwriter.