India Is Working On Developing Unmanned Tanks, Vessels, Robotic Weaponry For Next Generation Warfare


The government of India begins working on an ambitious defence project of incorporating artificial intelligence (AI), so that the operational preparedness of the armed forces will get enhanced in a significant way. The project includes equipping them with unmanned tanks, vessels, aerial vehicles and robotic weaponry.

The project comes under a broader policy initiative for preparing the three wings of defence Army, Navy and the Air Force for next generation warfare and comes in middle of China’s rising investments in developing critical applications of AI for its military.

India’s first unmanned tank

Secretary Defence Production Ajay Kumar stated that the government had decided to introduce AI in all the three forces seeing the requirements of future warfare.

The specifics and framework of the project is said to be finalized by high-powered task force headed by Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran which would be implemented in a partnership model between the private sector and the armed forces.

Kumar told, “It is India’s preparation for next generation warfare. This (AI) is where the future is going to be. We need to prepare ourselves for the next generation warfare which will be more and more technology driven, more and more automated and robotised.”

India to boost the capabilities of its armed forces had started working on the application of AI like other world powers. Kumar said that, in future wars, unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned naval vessels, unmanned tanks and automatic robotic rifles as weapon systems will have to be used. “We need to create capabilities for all these platforms,” he said.

The production of a range of unmanned platforms for the three services will be included in the project. Also, the three forces were demanding for extensive applications of AI in their operational preparedness for a long period. With this application, armed forces’ pressure of surveillance on China and Pakistan will be reduced.

China is investing billions of dollars to develop AI research and machine learning. The country unveiled an ambitious plan to make the country the AI innovation centre of the world by the year 2030. Not only China, but also US, Britain, France and the European Union are investing significantly in AI for creation of intelligent machines. Unmanned drones which were used by US for carrying out successful operations targeting terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan and Northwest Pakistan operated with the help of artificial intelligence.

Ajay Kumar, secretary defence production

Kumar stated, “AI is going to be a very big concept in the coming years. Major countries of the world are now working on strategies to see how AI can be used for defence forces. We are also moving ahead. What is unique about this initiative is that we have industry and defence forces working jointly.” By the June, the recommendations of the task force were likely to come in.

Kumar said, “India has a fairly strong IT industry base and that is going to be our biggest strength in terms of developing AI capabilities.”

Kumar who is pushing the project forward said a framework was being finalised to create a strong base for AI in defence systems, “We need to work on a partnership model which should be different from a buyer- seller proposition while fully leveraging capabilities of the industry,” and the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation ( DRDO) would play a major role in the project AI.

Kumar sees the higher potential for the use of AI both in the civilian sphere and the task force.

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