Role of Artificial Intelligence in Modern Warfare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used in all aspects of warfare, from the strategic to the tactical, including AI-enabled information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, command and control operations, logistics, information-related operations (such as deep fakes), semiautonomous and autonomous systems, and lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS).

The dimensions of future warfare exist within a changing landscape of technology and defence frameworks; war-fighting capabilities are constantly changing as new and disruptive technologies that harness the power of data and analytics to make predictions.

  • AI applications at the operational level of combat are concerned with attaining tactical objectives using military power. It augments the traditional deterrent mechanism with AI-enabled autonomous vehicles, big-data-driven simulations and war games, and intelligent battlefield data collecting and analysis.
  • AI applications at the strategic level of warfare (including state actors) examine the extent of the war and the consequences of escalation or de-escalation on preserving strategic stability and deterrence. It is propelled by AI-enabled ISR activities, as well as its application in precise strikes and missile defence.
  • AI-driven Cyberspace operations that involve both offensive and defensive mechanisms have brought a new dimension to strategic operations in which social media has played a role in the propagation of disinformation and the conduct of information warfare.
  • AI-enabled ISR activities involve using advanced sensors, radars, and automatic identification systems to gather geospatial data. AI plays a crucial role in object identification by analyzing large amounts of image data collected from satellites and drones.
  • Machine learning algorithms improve the detection of anomalous activities, threats, potential adversaries, and relevant intelligence information. This enhances the ability to make precise strikes and informed battlefield decisions, while also improving situational awareness across multiple domains.
  • Semiautonomous and Autonomous Systems: AI is used in semi-autonomous and autonomous weapon systems like drones, unmanned ground vehicles, and unmanned marine systems. These systems rely on AI for environment perception, navigation planning, obstacle identification, data merging, and communication with other systems.
  • Swarm drones, equipped with AI-guided systems, operate in hostile environments, follow complex formations, and conduct electronic and physical attacks. AI-enabled anti-submarine systems provide cost-effective alternatives. The future lies in swarm technology, which is low-cost, overwhelming adversaries’ defences, and capable of diverse battlefield formations.
  • Introduction of a new dimension to the future battlefield in cyberspace: AI algorithms leverage data from various platforms like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, enabling analysis that drives cyberspace operations. These operations involve addressing cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, misinformation campaigns, and deep fakes.
  • AI-enabled systems play roles in both offensive and defensive cyber activities, including probing, scanning, network jamming, vulnerability identification, anomaly detection, and intrusion detection.
  • AI in cyberspace is used unconventionally and asymmetrically, serving as a fundamental aspect of deterrence. Examples of AI-guided cyber systems being used for offensive and defensive purposes are evident in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, where critical infrastructure has been targeted using AI-enabled systems and software.
  • Information Operations are a crucial aspect of hybrid warfare, involving disinformation campaigns, cyber operations, deep fakes, and political influence operations. These non-kinetic methods aim to spread deception and sabotage as tools of warfare, all in the pursuit of maintaining strategic deterrence.
  • Military Logistics: AI is utilized in military logistics for the efficient transportation of equipment, ammunition, and soldiers. It has proven successful in the predictive maintenance of vehicles, enabling military fleets to detect anomalies and potential component failures.
  • The objective of all-domain command and control is to integrate and centralize the execution of operations across air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace. AI plays a crucial role in collecting and consolidating data from various sources into a single database, allowing algorithms to make correlations and predictions for improved decision-making.
  • AI-enabled systems and software are utilized in training and simulations to create models of various battlefield scenarios using real-time data. This helps soldiers and military personnel gain a better understanding of warfare constructs and familiarize themselves with different technologies.
  • Computational Military Reasoning and tactical AI are two further AI uses in battle.
    • Minesweeping drone bots that employ feature maps to analyse data and find and disable mines; segmentation detection to distinguish enemy battle tanks from friendly battle tanks.
    • Combat helmets with visors and exoskeleton suits (based on actuator devices and sensor design powered by special devices and AI) to improve a soldier’s skills.
    • Combat simulations using virtual reality scenarios to prepare soldiers for realistic warfare circumstances;Using satellite grid systems to analyse missile data for precision strikes.

Through data fusion, autonomy, speed, and endurance, AI has brought about a revolution in military affairs. It has enormous potential to change the direction of future battlefields. AI requires strategic thinking to manifest itself in all aspects of combat. A detailed roadmap outlining AI’s military role, deterrent capabilities with autonomous weapons, and participation in cyber defence and policy procedures are required.

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