Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd)
Defence technology is a broad term that encompasses the use of technology in military operations, including research, development, acquisition, and deployment of systems and equipment used by armed forces to protect national interests. Defence technology covers various fields, from cybersecurity to advanced weaponry, and plays a critical role in modern warfare.
One of the most critical aspects of defence technology is its role in military intelligence. With advancements in technology, it is now possible to collect vast amounts of data, process it quickly and accurately, and provide actionable intelligence to military leaders. This information is critical in understanding enemy movements and capabilities and identifying potential threats.
Another critical area of defence technology is the development of advanced weaponry. From traditional weapons like guns and bombs to more advanced systems like crewless aerial vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous weapons systems, technology is revolutionizing the way militaries fight wars. These weapons provide greater precision, range, and lethality, making them more effective in combat. Additionally, using technology in weapons systems allows for greater control and situational awareness, reducing the risk of civilian casualties.
Defence technology also includes the development of cybersecurity measures to protect military and government networks from cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly critical as militaries rely more on digital technologies and cyber-attacks. Developing advanced cybersecurity technologies, such as encryption and firewalls, can help prevent attacks and protect sensitive information from being compromised.
Defence technology also includes the development of logistics and support systems. These systems ensure that troops are adequately equipped, supplied, and supported to prevail in the field upon their adversary. In addition, the use of technology, logistics and support systems is optimized to ensure that troops have what they need when and where they need it.
Defence technology is critical in modern warfare, from military intelligence to advanced weaponry, cybersecurity, logistics and support systems. Rapid technological advancement means that defence technology will continue to evolve, with new technologies and systems developed to provide militaries with a strategic advantage on the battlefield.
What are the critical developments in defence technology since the Ukraine War started?
The Ukraine War, which began in 2014, has highlighted the critical importance of defence technology in modern warfare. Since the start of the conflict, several critical developments in defence technology have emerged. Some of these include:
Autonomous Weapons Systems. Autonomous weapons systems are crewless vehicles operating independently or with minimal human intervention. These systems have become increasingly important in the Ukraine conflict, with both sides using drones for reconnaissance and targeting. Autonomous weapons systems offer several advantages, including reduced risk to human personnel and increased accuracy in targeting.
Cybersecurity. Cybersecurity has become a significant concern in modern warfare, and the Ukraine conflict is no exception. Both sides have used cyber-attacks to disrupt and disable critical infrastructure, including power grids and communication networks. As a result, cybersecurity has become a critical component of modern defence technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has become increasingly crucial in defence technology, with applications ranging from military intelligence to autonomous weapons systems. AI has been used in the Ukraine conflict to analyse satellite imagery, track troop movements, and identify potential targets.
Electronic Warfare (EW). EW refers to using electronic systems to disrupt, deceive, or deny an enemy’s ability to communicate or operate effectively. Both sides used EW to disrupt communication networks and enemy targeting systems.
Crewless Underwater Vehicles (UUVs).UUVs are autonomous or remotely operated underwater exploration and surveillance vehicles. In the Ukraine conflict, UUVs are used to detect and neutralize underwater mines, as well as for surveillance purposes.
Hypersonic Weapons. Hypersonic weapons are missiles travelling at speeds greater than Mach 5. Russia has reportedly tested hypersonic missiles, which could give them a significant strategic advantage.
The Ukraine conflict has highlighted the importance of defence technology in modern warfare. Autonomous weapons systems, cybersecurity, AI, EW, UUVs, and hypersonic weapons are among the critical developments in defence technology that have emerged since the start of the conflict. As the pace of technological advancement continues, defence technology will continue to play a critical role in future conflicts.
How well is India prepared for a conflict considering the defence technology capabilities prevalent?
India has invested heavily in defence technology over the past few years, focusing on modernizing its armed forces and developing indigenous capabilities. However, despite these efforts, India must still prepare for a conflict.
One of the main challenges that India face’s is outdated equipment and technology. Many of India’s military systems are outdated and require significant modernization to keep up with emerging threats: this includes everything from fighter jets and tanks to communication and surveillance systems. While India has made progress in this area, there is still a long way to go to achieve technological parity with some of its more advanced adversaries.
Another challenge that India faces is the issue of logistics and supply chain management. The ability to supply troops with equipment, ammunition, and food is critical in any conflict, and India’s logistics systems have been criticized for needing to be faster and more efficient. While India has been improving its logistics systems, more work is needed to ensure that troops have what they need when needed.
India has invested in advanced defence technologies, such as crewless aerial vehicles, missile defence systems, and cybersecurity. However, many of these technologies are still in the development phase, and it may be several years before they are fully operational and integrated into India’s military capabilities.
India has made progress in developing its defence technology capabilities, but there is still work to be done to ensure that it is fully prepared for a conflict. Upgrading outdated equipment and technology, improving logistics and supply chain management, and continuing to invest in advanced defence technologies are all critical components of India’s efforts to enhance its military capabilities.
To access niche Defence Technology what improvements need to be made in the procurement procedures?
With access to niche defence technology, several improvements can be made in the procurement procedures. Some of these include:
Streamlining procurement procedures. Defence procurement procedures can be lengthy and bureaucratic, discouraging smaller companies and start-ups from participating. Streamlining these procedures by simplifying documentation requirements and reducing processing times can make it easier for smaller companies to participate and provide innovative niche technologies.
Emphasizing technology over cost. Defence procurement processes typically focus on the lowest bidder, which can result in the selection of less capable technologies. By prioritizing technology over cost, procurement procedures can encourage selecting more advanced and niche technologies, even if they may be more expensive.
Encouraging partnerships and collaborations. Encouraging partnerships and collaborations between larger defence contractors and smaller niche technology companies can help bridge the gap between established defence technologies and emerging niche technologies. This can help to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative niche technologies.
Increasing transparency and accountability. Lack of transparency and accountability in procurement processes can lead to corruption and favouritism, which can discourage smaller companies and start-ups from participating. Increasing transparency and accountability in procurement processes can help to create a level playing field and encourage greater participation from smaller companies and start-ups.
Developing long-term procurement plans. Developing long-term procurement plans that take into account emerging threats and technological advancements can help to ensure that niche technologies are identified and prioritized in procurement processes. This can help to avoid the short-term focus that often characterizes procurement processes and encourage the adoption of more advanced and niche technologies.
Improving procurement procedures can help to facilitate access to niche defence technologies. Streamlining procedures, prioritizing technology over cost, encouraging partnerships and collaborations, increasing transparency and accountability, and developing long-term procurement plans are all steps that can be taken to improve procurement processes and facilitate access to niche defence technologies.
Will the Make II procedure under Make in India be the right way forward for Defence Technology adaptation?
The Make II procedure under the Make in India initiative is a step in the right direction for defence technology adaptation. The procedure aims to promote the development of indigenous defence manufacturing capabilities by encouraging private sector participation in defence production. Under Make II, private sector companies can submit proposals for developing and manufacturing defence equipment, with the government providing funding and support.
Advantages to the Make II Procedure
1. It helps to promote the development of indigenous defence manufacturing capabilities, which is critical for reducing dependence on imports and enhancing national security.
2.It encourages private sector participation in defence production, which can help to bring in new ideas and technologies and promote innovation.
3.It can reduce costs and increase efficiency by leveraging the expertise and capabilities of the private sector.
Challenges with the Make II Procedure
One of the main challenges is the issue of intellectual property rights. Private sector companies may be hesitant to participate in defence production if they do not have sufficient protection for their intellectual property. Therefore, the government must ensure adequate protection for private-sector companies to encourage participation.
Another challenge is the issue of bureaucracy and red tape. The Make II procedure involves a complex and lengthy evaluation, selection, and implementation, which can discourage private-sector companies from participating. The government must streamline the process and reduce bureaucratic hurdles to encourage greater private-sector participation.
The Make II procedure under the Make in India initiative is a step in the right direction for defence technology adaptation. It promotes the development of indigenous defence manufacturing capabilities, encourages private sector participation, and can help to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
However, the government will need to address some of the challenges associated with the Make II procedure, such as the issue of intellectual property rights and bureaucratic hurdles, to ensure its success.
Space is a new frontier for warfare in terms of anti-satellite weapons, how do the developed Nations compare with India in this domain?
Space has become a new frontier for warfare, and anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons have emerged as a critical component of modern military capabilities. Several developed nations, including the United States, Russia, and China, have invested heavily in ASAT capabilities, and India has also made significant strides in this domain.
The United States is widely considered to have the most advanced ASAT capabilities in the world, with a range of systems that can destroy satellites in orbit. The US has been investing in ASAT technologies since the 1950s and has developed various systems, including ground-based missiles, laser systems, and kinetic kill vehicles.
Russia also has a significant ASAT capability, with a range of systems that can be used to destroy satellites in orbit. Russia has invested in ASAT technologies since the 1960s and has developed various systems, including ground-based missiles and co-orbital systems.
China has been investing heavily in ASAT technologies in recent years and is considered a rising player in this domain. China has developed ground-based missiles and has conducted successful tests of co-orbital ASAT systems, including a test in 2007 that destroyed one of its satellites.
India has also made significant strides in developing ASAT capabilities. In March 2019, India successfully tested an ASAT missile, making it the fourth country in the world, after the US, Russia, and China, to have this capability. India’s ASAT system is a ground-based missile that can destroy satellites in low-earth orbit.
Several developed nations, including the United States, Russia, and China, have invested heavily in ASAT capabilities, with the US being the most advanced in this domain. India has also made significant strides in this domain, with the successful test of its ASAT missile in 2019. However, while ASAT technologies can enhance military capabilities, they also raise concerns about the militarization of space and the risks of debris generated from ASAT tests and operations.
To sum up, the government, Service HQs, academia and industry have to be synergised to ensure that India remains ahead of the technology curve and is prepared for the next war in all its manifestations to include non-military means.
The author is an Indian Army Veteran.
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