Future warfare: Indian Army to study disruptive warfare technologies

Indian Army is undertaking the crucial step to study disruptive warfare technologies with a view to upgrading robotics, big data analysis, IoT and robust AI defence platforms
Future warfare: Indian Army to study disruptive warfare technologies
  • Indian Army to undertake a major study on disruptive and niche warfare technologies

  • Armed forces to focus more on R&D for developing robust AI defence platforms 

New Delhi: As the face-off with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) continues to grow deeper, the Indian Army has started taking initiative in disruptive warfare technologies to catch hold of the Dragon. Indian Army is now conducting major studies on "niche and disruptive warfare technologies" to modernise its forces. Over the coming years, the Army will be focussing on disruptive technologies including robotics, big data analysis, artificial intelligence, loiter munition, drone swarm and Internet of Things (IoT), top sources placed with the Indian Army said. 

The development can be seen in relation to the ongoing border standoff along the Line of Actual (LAC) control. The study aims at strengthening India's conventional warfare capabilities as 1.3 million strong force still depends on comparatively obsolete technology.

Response to Dragon's "revolution in military affairs (RMA) with Chinese characteristics"?

The study is a positive development though it should have been commissioned early looking at rival's advancement. China had ambitiously started developing its futuristic warfare technologies since the 1980s only. In recent times it has heavily invested in disruptive technologies like AI, robotics among others to take a leap forward in more advanced areas to start a "revolution in military affairs (RMA) with Chinese characteristics". Moreover, since last three decades, the Chinese RMA has been focussing on information warfare, electronic warfare, asymmetric methods, C4ISR modernisation, rapid mobility, long-range precision strikes, space warfare, missiles and joint operations.

Where does India stand in Modern Warfare?

In stark contrast to the Chinese, the Indian defence forces, unfortunately, have been slow to adopt new technologies for a multitude of reasons. The first and foremost challenge for the policymakers is the lack of comprehensive understanding of the objectives that the AI looks to achieve in the strategic context of India to appropriate the technology in defence. Another challenge India faces on AI front is the lack of essential infrastructure in the civil and military sector that is the biggest driving force behind this technology.

'Better Coordination is the need'

Further, the absence of coordination among the services, DRDO and academia is also seen as a major hindrance which is affecting the growth of AI in the country. Lieutenant General (Retd) Dr Ravindra Singh Panwar, who commanded a wide range of units and formations, including an Armoured Division Communication Regiment and an Electronic Warfare Group, says that "the lack of synergy between services, DRDO and academia is a huge problem which is affecting the growth of AI in the defence forces. Services have to upgrade themselves to be able to absorb the new technology. There is a huge amount of talent as well as the funding available in these three domains but a right synergetic research and development model does not exist in India. Since the services are responsible for the defence of the country, the push has to come from them."

Citing the example of the US in coordination among stakeholders, he further said, "The United States has a dedicated Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), which is a subordinate to the US Army. In this command, the engineers and researchers, who are mostly civilians, work under the command of US armed forces. This model allows the country to have possessed core expertise in a particular field".

In India, a similar model can be created to have better coordination between all the research organisations and service.

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