Experts debate pros and cons of disruptive defence tech

Experts debate risks and benefits of disruptive defence technology

US Navy Captain Dan Fillion, Defence Attache at the US Embassy, felt the challenge of gaining an upper hand with disruptive technology had much to do with the awe over the problem than the actual problem itself

He stressed on a 2018 attack by low-grade drones on Russian airbase that forced the Russians to expend high-dollar missiles to bring the threats down. (Credit: DH Photo)

A consistent theme at DefExpo 2020 was how disruptive weapon technologies, especially drones and artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies, are shaping today’s world, and how India can get the better of them.

However, for the many senior officers, defence experts and officials who visited the expo, there often appeared to be no easy answers to the paradigm implications to defence posed by such technologies.

It is a situation best exemplified by fears of AI running riot with networks, of unexpected drone attacks on critical infrastructure or cyber-hacking to cripple a country as a prelude to war. This was discussed at a discussion on “game changers” in defence and aerospace, organised by a think-tank, Synergia Foundation at DefExpo on Thursday.

However, Sanjay Mitra, the former secretary of defence, cautioned that such technologies were ultimately constrained by national defence budgets. “Defence already occupies 50-60% of India’s national budget and expenditure and close to 30% of our capital expenditure. The danger comes when trying to match the expenditure of our opponents,” Mitra said.

However, Sameer Joshi, whose Bengaluru-based firm, New Space Research, is involved in developing drone technologies, said that complacency won’t help India. He stressed on a 2018 attack by low-grade drones on Russian airbase that forced the Russians to expend high-dollar missiles to bring the threats down.

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