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In the news

How the Ukraine war will reshape future land forces capabilities

Feb 2023 |  technology report | NIGHT VISION & OPTICS

by Flavia Camargos Pereira

Lessons learned from the battlefield are leading armies and industry toward focusing on innovative, multidomain, uncrewed, cyber, machine learning and AI solutions in addition to advanced logistic capacities.

Above: Advanced armoured platforms will be critical on tomorrow’s battlefield. (Photo: US Army)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been deeply impacting land warfare planning. Lessons learned from this conflict are playing a critical role in reshaping requirements for future capabilities that tomorrow's battlefield will need.

These lessons are pushing armies and industry toward focusing on innovative, multidomain, uncrewed, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber solutions in addition to advanced logistics capacities.

The war has also been showing how armoured platforms will continue to be critical assets. Future platforms should feature a lower signature and enhanced mobility, protection and lethality.

Speaking to Shephard, military advisors to the DSEI 2023 event pointed out that this conflict has been showing that the speed of deployment for troops and weapon systems as well as rapid reaction will be crucial for tomorrow's land warfare.

From RAdm Jon Pentreath’s perspective, 'it is all about operating and learning quicker than your opponents', and Ukraine has been doing that 'seemingly brilliantly'.

'In a funny way, there aren't very many new lessons, there are old lessons. I think we probably knew the importance of good training, good tactics, good procedures as well as innovative equipment,' he explained.

AVM Gary Waterfall noted that it is necessary to be faster and more deadly in addition to continually evolving alongside the technology. In his opinion, 'you have got to harness across all the domains' and have 'robust cyber capabilities'.

This war is also impacting the way armed forces handle information. In this scenario, the deployment of advanced AI and ML capabilities will be relevant in order to judge when to act or react.

Waterfall stressed that Ukrainians have been gathering intelligence on Russian armour 'simply by taking a picture on their mobile phone', and 'everybody is an intelligence node' in the country.

Supply chains and logistics were deeply impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

(Photo: US Army)

'There is a mass of data arriving from every street corner in every town,' which can 'feed into all sorts of networks to be provided to the decision-maker at the key moment', he highlighted.

As Pentreath pointed out, delegating some of the analysing efforts to machines accelerates the decision-making process.

Future warfare will also require 'as good situational awareness as you can get, and reconnaissance will be critical,' he said.

Improvements in armoured platforms in terms of power and mobility are also expected to make their way onto tomorrow's battlefield.

Compared to traditional diesel engines, 'having fighting vehicles that have low or no IR signature and can move quickly and silently around the battlefield will be a real advantage', Waterfall highlighted.

Pentreath pointed out that, due to the growing proliferation of threats, 'mobility and not being in the same place for a very long time is hugely important'.

From the doctrinal perspective, ongoing developments in Ukraine show that the future battlefield will demand systems and soldiers that can be deployed in multidomain operations.

'It requires combined arms warfare. Any single sort of capability on its own in conflict is going to be very, very vulnerable,' Pentreath claimed.

Another area deeply impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine is logistics. Providing defence material, equipment and ammunition to Kyiv has depleted the military reserves of various nations and exposed vulnerabilities in their defence supply chains

Machine learning and artificial intelligence will be crucial for land forces.

(Photo: US JAIC)

In this scenario, the shortage of key materials and components for military acquisition and development programmes is a serious concern worldwide.

'We have probably been surprised at weapons [use] and the intensity of fire going through stockpiles,' Pentreath noted.

Additionally, logistic issues impacted the deployment of Russian ground vehicles in the conflict. Moscow has not been able to maintain a regular supply line to support its troops, which has forced soldiers to abandon vehicles due to lack of fuel and/or spare parts.

Waterfall noted that this war highlights 'the need to work faster than ever throughout the whole supply chain to deliver the effect at the right time'.

In his opinion, 'it is no longer about having these capabilities on the shelf and choosing when and if you wish to employ them. It is about having deep, credible deterrence'.

Next article below > Hensoldt enters partnership to add artificial intelligence to its sensor systems

Hensoldt enters partnership to add artificial intelligence to its sensor systems

Feb 2022 |  technology report | NIGHT VISION & OPTICS


Hensoldt has become an investor in artificial intelligence developer 21strategies, and the two companies are already collaborating on a synthetic environment project for the German Armed Forces.

Above: 21strategies is working on so-called 'Third Wave' artificial intellgence solutions. (Image: 21strategies)


Sensor system manufacturer Hensoldt and AI company 21strategies have entered into a strategic collaboration to jointly drive development of next-generation AI for defence systems.

The partnership sees Hensoldt take part in 21strategies' funding round. It will work on new AI approaches under the so-called 'Third Wave', such as cognitive AI and leverage Hensoldt's existing OSINT competencies.

'Celia Pelaz, board member and chief strategy officer at Hensoldt said: 'We develop many AI competencies in-house and supplement them in a very targeted manner by working with specialised partners such as 21strategies... The minority shareholding in 21strategies is the first of its kind at Hensoldt. This is right in line with our policy of working with young and dynamic high-tech companies with strong cooperation potential.'

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The two companies already work together on the GhostPlay project for the German Armed Forces Digitisation and Technology Research Centre (DTEC.Bw). This creates a high-performance, synthetic simulation environment ('Ghost') to develop decision-making procedures taking into account different parameters ('Play') by means of AI and in interaction with opponents with different performance profiles.


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