Indian Defence Needs a Digital Avatar (1/3)

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Making our forces ‘digitally supreme’.
  2. How Will a New ‘Digital Avatar’ Transform Defence?
  3. Moving beyond just being ‘battlefield supreme’
  4. How will this ‘Digital Avatar’ Impact Military Operations?

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

Overview

We live in an era where technology is constantly changing and evolving. This, while opening up a host of opportunities in all spheres of business, governance and daily lives Our armed forces are already thriving in an environment that is vulnerable to continuous threats, be it on a warfront or on security. So the next logical step is to work towards making our forces ‘digitally supreme’.

There is a pressing need to harness the power of digital technology and equip our armed forces with best-in-class modern digital capabilities that will not only modernize and secure our military operations but will also safeguard our nation.

Let’s take the example of some of the most advanced armed forces in the world and their thrust on defence digitisation:

  • Focusing on autonomous technologies, The US Department of Defence (DoD) has allocated $3.7 billion for the development of unmanned aerial and undersea vehicle capabilities[1]
  • Consolidating on overall defence ICT modernisation, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), plans to establish $1.95 billion multi-year framework, spanning 5 years starting 2020, for a host of digital and IT programs[2]
  • The Finnish Defence Force is rolling out a modernised tactical wireless IP network – TAC Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T), to digitise battlefield communications

The armed forces all over the world understand the nuances associated with vulnerability on both the fronts – security as well as battlefield and are rapidly incubating digital technologies in their military operations to gain a winning edge. The time is ripe for our national defence forces to ride the digitization wave and get a new digital ‘avatar’.

How Will a New ‘Digital Avatar’ Transform Defence?

Imagine a digitally-enabled defence force…. Once the C3 (communications command and control) is modernised, technology and digitisation will pervade all levels and departments in defence. Military ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), one of the most critical success factors in warfare and defence will be powered by autonomous technologies, sensors and satellites to provide granular intelligence inputs on the field and in operations. A digitised battlefield will have a competitive edge through the added power of next-gen

ISR technologies like thermal, infrared, sound and electromagnetic sensors, aerial photography, high altitude pseudo satellites, UAVs, cloud and AI bases analytics.

Modernization of traditional radio systems and replacing them with digital communications systems will drive innovations in airborne, naval, man-portable, vehicular and stationary communications.

Command and control centre operations have always been a challenging task, but will enable data led decision making and action mobilisation.

Smart weaponry like UAVs, drones, self-guided bullets and unmanned tanks, are now regularly being deployed and are changing the means by which warfare is conducted.

All of these scenarios will beautifully integrate into a defence ecosystem which is fortified and formidable at the same time.

Moving beyond just being ‘battlefield supreme’

Nations, which are able to anticipate and leverage opportunities arising out of digital technology-led transformation, will have a competitive edge over the other nations in future. It is imminent that our nation’s defence arm is digitally equipped so that it can confront to the demands of today and tackle the threats of tomorrow.

What we need is a systematic approach to ‘digitally transform’ our defence force and have cutting-edge technology advantage over the other nations.

Interpret implications and threats that arise from the ever-changing technology landscape

Establish technology-led strategies required to respond to these threats and implications

Optimise their approach in leveraging technologies across defence sector

Prioritise their investment in developing digital capabilities that have the greatest impact, NOW and in FUTURE

How will this ‘Digital Avatar’ Impact Military Operations?

The progress on digitisation in the Indian armed forces will bring in change in the basic precept of military operations. Our defence sector’s enhanced digital capabilities will have far reaching impact on each aspect of defence – strategy, operations and tactics!

  1. More winnability and mission effectiveness
  2. Infallible military intelligence
  3. Excellent management spanning defence strategy, tactics and operations
  4. Jointness among the Tri-forces
  5. Reduced human casualties
  6. Enhanced cyber and physical security
  7. Superior threat identification capability
  8. Smart weapons deployment

Now, what defence sector requires is putting modern digital capability at the heart of its operations to create winning advantage in future…We need to now look at the technology mandate and use cases in a granular fashion. In the next blog in this 3 part series, we will delve deeper into one of the technology applications which is touted as the next big thing in defence – IoBT (Internet of Battle Things). Stay tuned!

[1]https://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2020/fy2020_Budget_Request_Overview_Book.pdf

[2] https://www.photonicsonline.com/doc/using-swir-in-intelligence-surveillance-and-reconnaissance-isr-military-and-security-systems-0001

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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