India’s tactical vulnerabilities have grown in tandem with its technology deficiencies, posing serious danger. India’s counterinsurgency capabilities could be revolutionized by disruptive technical breakthroughs. With the emergence of a China-Pakistan axis and the possibility of Pakistan intentionally leaking disruptive technology to its non-state affiliates, Indian defence strategists must think ahead.

Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat explained that India’s ambition to become a regional superpower cannot rely on borrowed power and that the country’s battles must be won with domestic weapons and technology. India’s potential to manufacture defence equipment is limited due to the fragmented nature of its defence commercial industrial environment.

The insidious nature of information and the rapid speed of technology change is redefining the fundamental nature of conflict, allowing for novel non-contact warfare especially. However, the optimum solutions must be identified through acquisitions, streamlining or up-gradation of legacy systems, and indigenous manufacture, all while bearing in mind India’s macroeconomic characteristics and socioeconomic demands.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, advanced analytics, drones, autonomous drone systems, aerospace militarization, cyber operations, quantum telecommunications, and social media propaganda are all contributing to new dangers that are further challenging the security ecosystem lately.

Use of Artificial Intelligence

Several technological advances and their expected courses have presented armed forces throughout the world with a wide range of alternatives and domains to strengthen their operations over the previous decade. Several major technologies are at the forefront of these breakthroughs, and they constitute a serious disruption in current military assets. Artificial Intelligence may be the most well-known and rapidly evolving field with significant disruption potential.

Using a hybrid of surveying, pattern recognition, scanning, and strategizing, AI technology can be used in combat to assess vast data and expedite judgement. AI can provide a foundation for the military to optimize immediate reactions to cyber assaults, conventional bombardments, and other sorts of electronic volleys due to its distinctive and dynamic algorithms.

AI’s implementation in automation to produce smarter autonomous Unmanned Vehicles has been one of the most discussed extensions of AI. They have a wide range of applications in warfare, from decreasing losses to gathering intelligence, monitoring systems, and reconnaissance (ISR) in the most extreme weather circumstances. Drone swarms, which allow a huge group of drones to work in concert to conduct a myriad of complicated military manoeuvres, have been developed by industry leaders.

Swarm Drones

The Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force have inked various major contracts over Rs 500 crore in the realm of drone technology in less than two weeks, with a focus on Indian enterprises amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for adopting innovative battle technologies. In addition to counter-drone technologies, the Services have signed deals for the purchase of kamikaze drones or hovering weapons to swarm drones with both kill and reconnaissance capability. All contracts are being inked under the emergency procurement process. This is because the procedure is quicker, according to sources, and the goal right now is to help indigenous enterprises while they work on improved models.

The Army has also acquired over 100 tactical Indo-Israel kamikaze drones, which were employed in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, to strengthen its operating efficiency along Pakistan’s and China’s frontiers. These drones will be constructed in Bengaluru by a strategic alliance between Israel’s Elbit System and India’s Alpha Design, which is now part of the Adani Group, and will be delivered in a year. The Navy has also placed an enormous order for highly specialised drones with an Indian joint venture firm.

What Exactly are Swarm Drones?

The drones are being released as a swarm, which is a technique known as swarm drone technology. These drones are not only lightweight and inexpensive, but they also have high-tech AI, making them crucial in upcoming combat. Swarm drones can cause chaos since they are used in deceptive warfare, radar systems and air defence systems are often unable to detect the numerous drones, mistaking them for a single large entity.

With a range of 50 kilometres and the capacity to strike targets from a distance of 500 metres, these drones can make significant advances behind enemy trenches. The UAV has a parent drone with a child drone attached that fires and then self-destruct after striking the mark.

These drones use AI and integrated responsive processors to carry out automatic, stochastic sonic operations to the target location. It is powered by satellite signals that are updated on a regular basis. These drones can also be used to drop food, medication, ammo, or any other necessary supplies to troops in regions that are cut off from supply routes. 

Moving Forward

Despite the fact that researchers have cautioned that these disruptive technologies should not be deemed the “magic elixir” in military readiness, it is evident that their procurement might give the state a competitive edge in the arena.

The integration of Quantum technology in the military strata would be a step deeper into the future and at the leading edge of technological disruption. China is at the forefront of this breakthrough, which has a lot of potential once it is actually realised. Its military implementation in quantum key exchange, quantum crypto algorithms, and quantum sensing threaten to change the military landscape fundamentally. Once developed, this technology is expected to equip the military with a hack-resistant communication system as well as unrivalled computational resources on the battleground.

Despite these tremendous technological developments, the DRDO continues to be mired in the creation of more traditional kinds of technology, amidst a slew of challenges such as delays, underbudgeting, and obsolete technology. While India’s missile, cyber, and space programmes have made significant progress before, a change in tactics may be required to strategically rise to the demands posed by rapidly evolving disruptive technologies.

It is apparent that domestic manufacture of such technology is still a critical aspect in their military application. Because a large percentage of these innovations emerge from commercial enterprises and can eventually be translated and used to growing military needs due to their dual-use nature, it is critical for the administration to foster an ecosystem receptive to such innovation As a consequence, for endogenous ingenuity and realistic technical advancement, a civil-military partnership is essential.