Not too long ago, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a mere subject of our imaginations. But in 2022, it is a formidable technology and it’s already all around us. AI is powering a lot of things today, including personalized shopping and learning, virtual assistants, smart content, cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, and much more. As an industry, artificial intelligence is expected to grow to $432.8 billion in 2022, according to the latest report by International Data Corporation (IDC). So big is its potential that PwC predicts the AI industry to be worth $15 trillion by 2030!
Today, even the defence industries worldwide are looking to leverage the might of AI. In this particular segment, AI’s contribution is about $6.4 billion globally and the number is expected to grow to $13.15 billion by 2028 (The Insight Partners).
AI for defence has piqued India’s interest in recent times too. During their recent visit to the US in April 2022, the country’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar engaged their American counterparts on artificial intelligence and its use in the matters of national security, among other issues. As a result, the Pentagon announced that India and the US had agreed to launch an inaugural Defence Artificial Intelligence Dialogue and committed to expand their joint cyber training and exercises.
India’s Role In Growth Of AI
India has played a pivotal role in the growth of AI, just as it has in the rise of the software industry. As the computers shrank in size over the last decade, India has retained its position as one of the greatest contributors to the world’s software and AI markets.
According to an IDC report, the Indian Artificial Intelligence (AI) market is expected to reach $7.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 20.2%. The central government and state governments across the country have taken significant steps to increase AI technology adoption to implement it for public welfare in the areas of automated monitoring systems, conversational AI solutions, fraud detection, and more.
COVID-19 & AI In Defence
The pandemic had a huge impact on economies all over the globe and caused plenty of hardships across industries, but Artificial Intelligence actually thrived – even in the defence segment! The leading defence manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Northrop Grumman along with the governments worldwide increased their investments in this technology despite COVID-19. This was largely because these organisations had already recognized the potential of AI systems for national security.
Even as the development of AI technology experienced a significant push, the process of building AI systems took a hit due to a shortage of raw materials due to the disruptions in the supply chain during the pandemic.
AI-Enabled Solutions - The Future
Some of the most developed countries worldwide invest heavily in their defence programs to remain powerful. And a good amount of their defence budget is allocated for the research and development to boost defence technologies like AI in military applications. These applications are capable of handling and processing large amounts of data, and have enhanced computation and decision-making skills.
AI can truly be a game-changer in the fields of logistics, information operations, intelligence collection and analysis, command and control, and also for operating semiautonomous and autonomous vehicles. In fact, AI has already been deployed on battlefields including in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
The technology is also being leveraged during training and simulations of the defence forces these days. AI helps employ system and software engineering ideas to create models which are capable of assisting soldiers in training on different fighting systems used in military operations. The US Navy and Army are already using simulation programmes to train their soldiers and cadets.
Besides these, artificial intelligence has the unique ability to collate data from various sources such as sensors, satellites, and devices to provide intelligent insights on adversaries, which could enable the defence personnel to make informed decisions.
“Improved situational awareness, fusion of sensors, faster decision-making, use of autonomous weapons, and integration of AI into every facet of warfare, will necessitate changes to war fighting doctrines, organizations and structures, training methodology and leadership,” said India’s Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane, recently. “For militaries across the world as well as for us, this remains an ongoing challenge, and a work in progress.”
Indian Government Bullish On AI In Defence
Artificial Intelligence-based platforms will be a deciding factor in the battlefields of tomorrow. And the race for AI supremacy has already begun. While the US, Russia, and China lead the way in these spaces, India too has realized the potential of AI in the defence sector.
Since 2019, the Indian defence establishment has had the Defence AI Council (DAIC), overseen by the Minister of Defence. The DAIC is tasked with providing the strategic direction towards AI-driven transformation in defence and providing guidance in the areas of data sharing, enabling strategic partnership with industry, deciding on acquisition of technology and more. Further, the body also guides the partnership between the government and industry.
A Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA) has also been confirmed with the secretary of defence production as the chairman. Each service headquarters has been directed to set aside INR 100 crores for AI-specific application development.
Amongst the three defence forces of the country, the Indian Navy has taken the lead in implementing AI-related projects. “Navy is progressing around 30 AI projects and initiatives encompassing Autonomous Systems, Language Translation, Predictive Maintenance, Inventory Management, Text Mining, Perimeter Security, Maritime Domain Awareness and Decision Making,” Commander Vivek Madhwal, Spokesperson of Indian Navy, told TINE.
More recently, in a bid to support innovation from startups in the fields of AI and the defence ecosystem, the Ministry of Defence launched the sixth edition of the Defence Indian Startup Challenge (DISC 6) under the iDEX programme. Through this challenge, the Ministry is looking to give Indian startups a boost by offering financial assistance in the range of INR 1.5 crores to INR 10 crores.
Although India’s main competitor China is way ahead in the Defence AI segment, it has been a good start for India. The current initiatives need to be paid attention to for the innovations to continue. Indian startups are on their way up, and tapping into their potential to develop AI defence systems could help the country accelerate its growth rate in this space.
Origins Of AI
While AI is a remarkable technology today that plays a significant role in the IT, telecom, and marketing sectors, did you know that artificial intelligence traces its roots back to a time that was close to the World War II? The vision of artificial intelligence was born when Alan Turing, who famously cracked the Nazi Engima machine, posed an important question in his paper: “Can machines think?”
About The Author
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst, and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Private Limited which is a Subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia.
(Views expressed are the author's own & do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)