This DEFTECH SCAN reports on and assesses occurrences in military technology and capability development taking place from late March through late May. It contains reporting on recent activities and announcements in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, France, Russia, China, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, and Australia. It also covers multiple NATO activities and includes general commentary on developments related to emerging capabilities such as cognitive electronic warfare and drone swarms.
As with the March volume—and all DEFTECH SCANS moving forward—where appropriate this report emphasises the intersection between defence and security activity and the coronavirus pandemic.
Resilience: More fundamentally, the report has a strong focus on how militaries and security communities are improving resilience against an expanding set of challenges. The emphasis on resilience cuts across most sections of this report, including descriptions and analysis of:
• An effort to build more rugged stealthy materials to optimize performance in harsh conditions;
• The vulnerability to cyber-attacks of both industry and infrastructure in different countries and of the efforts to build resilience to these increasingly prevalent and damaging attacks;
• Plans to build proliferated space architectures of small satellites in part designed to enhance resilience of crucial space-based capabilities.
Other key themes and insights from the report include:
Key Events: The reporting period saw several significant events that demonstrate the role emerging defence technologies and activity in the cyber and space domain and the electromagnetic spectrum are playing in shaping the future of conflict and prioritised military capabilities. Four events stand out:
• The role of Israel’s Iron Dome short-range missile defence system played in the 11-day Israel Hamas conflict in May;
• An increase in cyber-attacks against both industry and critical infrastructure, including a ransomware attack against oil pipelines in the United States that led to a run on gas across much of the East Coast of the U.S;
• The U.S. Army awarding a $22 billion dollar contract to Microsoft for 120,000 augmented reality headsets that will drive the technology forward for both military and commercial applications;
• The release of UN report that confirmed the first known use of a lethal autonomous weapons system against humans during the conflict in Libya in 2020.
Meeting Novel Threats: Enhancing Collaboration and Flexibility: This reporting period once again demonstrates the need for collaboration—between civilian government and militaries, between national governments, and between militaries and academia and industry—to meet the threats facing defence and security communities.
The reporting period also highlighted the emerging need for militaries to develop flexible and layered solutions that can reduce risk and ensure operational efficacy in different contexts and operational environments. For example, militaries are devising multiple new technologies and operational concepts to intercept small uncrewed aerial systems, including techniques designed to bring down these systems with little to no collateral damage in populated areas in addition to kinetic means of destroying drones. Similarly, multiple exercises in the reporting period demonstrated the mission flexibility of uncrewed ground vehicles (UGV) and the ability of some UGVs to serve in multiple supporting functions depending on the situation with only limited modifications.
Source : DEFTECH