The events of 2022 are prompting countries to reassess their defense budgets and enhance their military capabilities. These events include Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Additionally, China consistently engages in conflicting actions toward Taiwan, and there is an escalation of military conflicts between Palestine and Israel. The growing threats from other nations compel countries to strengthen their defense efforts and boost military expenditures.
In 2024, the United States allocated a record $886 billion for defense needs, while NATO increased its military budget for the year by 12% to 2.03 billion euros. Other countries are also keeping pace by expanding their budgets. For businesses, this means there’s a new chance to find opportunities. In this opportunity, they can create new and clever technologies, make money, and at the same time, help their own countries do well.
What technologies will be the most popular and necessary for the defense sector?
Artificial Intelligence in Defense
AI can analyze large amounts of information much faster than the human brain and eyes, helping to detect threats, and recognize equipment, and faces much more quickly. As a result, it can significantly improve decision-making during real combat and save human resources. AI, rather than replacing the need for human soldiers, acts as a force multiplier. It supplements personnel strength and potentially reduces dependence on recruiting.
The military can implement AI in non-combat and combat applications through autonomous systems and robotics, enhanced data analysis, cybersecurity, network defense, command and control systems, and support of combat operations.
Artificial Intelligence stands out as a game-changing technology with the potential to enhance various aspects of modern life. Initially focused on its impact in private sector industries like law, programming, and journalism, its most significant effects may emerge in war and defense. The geopolitical landscape could dramatically shift based on which nations harness AI’s full power and how they utilize it. Beyond traditional battlefield applications, AI can strengthen defense capabilities, improve decision-making, and streamline operations.
AI, rather than replacing the need for human soldiers, acts as a force multiplier. It supplements personnel strength and potentially reduces dependence on recruiting. The U.S. military is implementing AI in non-combat and combat applications through autonomous systems and robotics, enhanced data analysis, cybersecurity, network defense, command and control systems, and support of combat operations. Here are more detailed examples:
- Autonomous Systems and RoboticsAI-driven vehicles, drones, and robots are being heavily researched and deployed in defense industry. These autonomous platforms perform tasks like surveillance, reconnaissance, and logistics operations, reducing risks to human lives and reaching otherwise inaccessible areas. Automation of routine tasks by AI frees up human personnel for more strategic missions.
- Enhanced Data Analysis and Predictive ModelingAI plays a critical role in processing and analyzing massive amounts of data in modern warfare. Algorithms sift through intelligence reports, satellite imagery, and other sources to identify patterns, trends, and threats. Real-time actionable insights empower military leaders to make informed decisions, and predictive modeling helps anticipate potential threats.
- Cybersecurity and Network DefenseAI enhances cybersecurity measures by continuously monitoring and analyzing network traffic. AI-driven systems can identify unusual patterns, detect potential cyberattacks, and respond promptly. Learning from past attacks strengthens cyber defenses over time, making military networks more resilient against malicious actors.
- Command and Control SystemsIn the complex defense environment, AI optimizes military command centers by providing real-time data analysis, situational awareness, and decision support for commanders. This enables better understanding of the battlefield situation, swift responses to threats, and more effective coordination of forces.
- Support of Combat OperationsAI is explored for its potential in warfare, including lethal autonomous weapons like drone swarms. AI also plays a critical role in supporting soldiers and commanders during live combat through image and video analysis. Algorithms swiftly and accurately analyze vast amounts of data, enabling the identification of targets, threats, or suspicious activities.
Simulators for training and combat
As the world becomes more digitized, cyber threats become increasingly evident and destructive.
Internet of Things (IoT) for the military sector
The internet emerged from the realm of defense. Web protocols and the provision of web addresses in 1989 allowed the internet to become a global phenomenon. Now, a new concept called the Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining momentum.
It involves extending internet connections beyond computers and communication systems to encompass everyday objects, such as cars, watches, food packaging, household appliances, and many other things. Civilian and commercial applications are the primary drivers of this technological revolution in IT.
In both civilian and defense sectors, sensors and network connections with a vast array of data types are becoming increasingly prevalent. These are produced and applied for various logistical, commercial, health, and security purposes.
The sensorization and “digitization” of society generate a large amount of real-time data, enabling remote monitoring of everything from individual health or the performance of individual soldiers to the analysis of civilian population movements or early detection and warning of hidden threats.
That’s why the scientific and technological departments of the defense sector are advancing innovations related to the internet in this new reality.
Currently, the Internet of Things tends to enhance defense capabilities: military intelligence and management systems utilize numerous sensors that can be deployed in all areas, allowing the military to gain complete situational awareness and control over different conflict zones or battle areas.
The existing technology of the civilian Internet of Things is increasingly being applied in the military sphere. Leading nations are placing significant emphasis on the need for investments in this field to achieve successful outcomes.
Big data analysis in defense
The proliferation of digital data on the internet and the increasing number of connected objects lead to large volumes of data. When is a data set considered large? It’s when traditional computer capabilities (storage, analysis, network transfer, and visualization) cannot cope with the quantity, speed, complexity, and quality of data saturating human life. This has prompted the need to invest in innovative hardware and software architectures.
Advancements in big data analytics allow, for example, decoding human DNA within minutes, predicting terrorist attacks, identifying marketing efforts, and preventing diseases. Nowadays, with the application of big data analytics, telecommunication and transportation companies can more accurately forecast consumer behavior, supermarkets can predict which products will sell, and auto insurance companies can understand how skillfully their clients drive.
The ability to harness the constantly growing volume of data changes our capacity to understand the world and everything within it. In the defense sector, certain European countries and the USA are implementing projects that utilize big data analytics to understand how these tools and capabilities can be applied in modeling for the needs of armed forces.
These areas include:
- Development of activity concepts and capability management.
- Operational analysis for decision-making in defense.
- Development of systems for identification, development, and detection of areas for the application of new or enhanced military capabilities.
- Analysis to identify gaps in training, development of alternative training methods, virtual combat training.
- Decision support in planning and executing operations.
Blockchain in defense
At present, blockchain and other distributed technologies are capturing the attention of researchers due to their potential applications beyond the financial sector where they originated.
Blockchain essentially organizes and stores information according to predefined logic. This peer-to-peer system maintains and transmits a digital ledger using cryptography to ensure confidentiality and integrity. As a result, blockchain networks not only reduce the likelihood of threats from adversaries but significantly increase the costs for an adversary to create such threats.
The importance of this technology lies in establishing trust in digital data. The innovative approach introduced by blockchain may lead to discoveries applicable in the defense sector, particularly in areas such as information security, authentication, data integrity, and resilience.
Considering its high breakthrough potential, blockchain technology is a promising research topic. Encryption becomes increasingly crucial in ensuring information confidentiality and is a fundamental component of the security of communication and information systems.
Drones and robotics
Over the past decade, unmanned systems have become commonplace tools used in conflicts. The use of drones, in particular, illustrates the immense potential of unmanned systems. Although remotely piloted aerial drones are perhaps the most prominent example of unmanned system technologies, their true potential extends across all battle environments – land, sea, air, and space.
In the future, swarm robotics and systems are poised to play a pivotal role in military operations. They will undertake tasks that are currently deemed too risky, complex, or even impossible for humans to perform. Robotic systems in the future may likely change the way military operations are conducted, possibly enabling the anticipation of new mission types.
The assessment of various defense scenarios, where diverse (ground, aerial, maritime) swarms of robots could add extra value, is actively being analyzed in leading European and U.S. countries. These projects highlight the enduring interest of the defense sector in this direction.
However, there is a need for more in-depth research and development, as well as new technologies that must be developed, refined, and tested before the full potential of robotic equipment and weaponry is fully realized on the battlefield.