Leveraging AI to strengthen C4ISR capabilities in the region

Attributed to: Waleid Al Mesmari, Vice President, Program Management, EW&I, EDGE

In modern theatres of conflict, the proliferation of devices and technologies often involves an overwhelming deluge of complex data. Command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems help armed forces in the air and on the ground make sense of this increasingly crowded and converged battlespace.

The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is undoubtedly and irrevocably transforming human civilisation as we know it. AI’s profound impact can be felt across all sectors of the economy, from communications and health to transportation and security. Clearly, AI offers phenomenal advantages of new and innovative services, as well as the potential to improve scale, speed and accuracy. Through ensuring an effective and strategic adoption of AI in the defence industry today, nations around the world can fortify their capability to deter and defeat their adversaries in the years to come.

The complexity of current C4ISR environments and the sheer volume of data being generated have triggered the need for automated systems that can ingest exponentially high volumes of data, process it with ultra-low latency, and derive actionable intelligence from it – providing defence units with the capability to gain a competitive advantage on the battlefield. C4ISR encompasses the most critical elements of modern defence systems when it comes to ensuring mission success. Through combining all the subsystems that maximise situational awareness and knowledge management, C4ISR allows military commanders to understand their operational environment and ensures agile decision-making.

The ongoing advancement of AI has further improved the efficiency and accuracy of these systems – reinforcing the idea that embracing emerging technology will have a game-changing and outsized impact on military power across the spectrum of conflict. Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Assessment of the US DoD C4ISR Market, Forecast to 2025, estimates that the market spending for C4ISR programmes will reach US$58.50 billion by 2025 from US$53.60 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.5%. Investments are increasingly targeted towards the development of advanced enemy detection and tracking systems to counter a wide- range of threats. Concurrently, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are being integrated into defence assets to further increase operational efficiency in modern battlespaces.

Growth is also being driven by the burgeoning volumes of data generated across the C4ISR industry. Tomorrow’s missions will leverage today’s data and every input is set to amplify the power of AI. As we advance further in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, each nation will try to gain supremacy in improving the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of information through leveraging C4ISR technologies. However, this can only be attained through utilising effective AI algorithms that augment human capability. Moreover, the key to effective C4ISR lies in optimising the functionality and interoperability of land, sea, air, cyber and space systems to rapidly turn data and intelligence into mission-winning action.

AI is a highly-advanced and constantly-evolving technology. AI-enabled solutions will help deliver critical system support under severe time constraints, as well as recommend alternative courses of action to help human operators easily navigate a labyrinth of decision points. The most precise decisions human beings can take will always rely on knowledge from extracted information.

Today, AI and big data analytics are leveraged to automatically detect and report irregularities in all domains – land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. Consequently, it is now possible to discover potential incidents in airborne or maritime traffic much earlier than before, helping forces gain precious time for counter-action. Through incorporating AI into communications, spectrum monitoring, navigation and other radio frequency (RF) systems, we can ensure quicker answers and the analysis of large amounts of data.

The increasing breadth and depth of information, the accelerating speed with which weapons can be deployed, and the proliferation of interoperable digital devices continue to drive home the imperative for Government and homeland security organisations to deploy more sophisticated and modern C4ISR capabilities.

Ultimately, modern battles are a race against time, where the side agile enough to make swift decisions and move expeditiously to execution will prevail. An effective C4ISR system will greatly help to prevent hostilities, shape the security environment, protect critical infrastructure, and safeguard borders and coastlines – thereby contributing to military success.

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