Indian policy makers and the military have acknowledged AI as a key component of national security strategy and are focused on AI-based research
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Deployment of robots including humanoid robots armed with machine guns by China opposite Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh has been covered in these columns earlier. This is conjunction with China recruiting Tibetan and Nepalese youth into the Peoples Liberation Army because of China's ageing population and the medical casualties faced by ethnic Chinese deployed in high altitude areas.
Countries like the US and China are focusing on AI and ML (machine learning) to develop lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). LAWS are killer robots that can operate in the air, on land, on water, underwater, or in space. The autonomy of current weapon systems as of 2018 was restricted to human giving the final command to attack with exceptions in some defensive systems. However, completely autonomous systems became the buzzword thereafter. The need to not having a human in the loop was to meet the requirement of rapid response.
Countries like the US and China are focusing on AI and ML (machine learning) to develop lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). LAWS are killer robots that can operate in the air, on land, on water, underwater, or in space.
In October 2018, Zeng Yi, an executive of the Chinese firm Norinco, said that "In future battlegrounds, there will be no people fighting", and that the use of lethal autonomous weapons in warfare is "inevitable". In 2020, a Kargu 2 drone hunted down and attacked a human target in Libya, according to a report from the UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Libya, published in March 2021. This perhaps is the first official report of deployment of an autonomous killer robot armed with lethal weaponry attacking humans. Kargu 2 drones having range of five km are manufactured by the Turkish company firm STM.
Over the years there has been plenty debate in international forums on the need to ban LAWS – the danger from killer robots roaming around. In 2021, the United States Department of Defense (US DoD) requested a dialogue with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on AI-enabled autonomous weapons but China refused to do so. But the fact remains that any discussions to ban autonomous weapon systems is useless even if certain specifications are worked out because countries having such technology will never abide by any such regulations (the US and China included) no matter the monitoring systems with blatant denials having become part of information or rather disinformation warfare.
A report from the UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Libya, published in March 2021 is the first official report of deployment of an autonomous killer robot armed with lethal weaponry attacking humans.
Yet, the need for such arms control will remain. With advances in artificial intelligence (AI), arms control is no doubt a challenging but very promising application. Indian policy makers and the military have acknowledged AI as a key component of national security strategy and are focused on AI-based research. The Indian defence establishment is working towards harnessing expertise of the information technology industry and is also making advances in the field of small arms that as of now has been limited to mechanical or technical improvements.
In pursuance of the above, Adani Defence and Aerospace, along with its partner Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), unveiled India's first AI based firing system 'ARBEL', the next-generation small arms solution, at the recently concluded DefExpo 2022 held at Gandhinagar in Gujarat. ARBEL is a weapon-embedded Intelligent Fire Control System (IFCS) based on motion sensors.
According to Ashish Rajvanshi, CEO of Adani Defence & Aerospace, ARBEL is the next-generation small weapons solution for enhancing the dismounted operator's lethality and survivability by correctly engaging targets in a condensed window of opportunity while under stress and exhaustion. The AI system reads and records the target, position, and recoil of the weapon as the user fires the first round. When the subsequent rounds are fired at the same target, this information is then utilised. The method gives the user total flexibility in addition to being prepared for fight. In other words, the user has the option to deactivate it during a battle. The weapon will also function correctly even if the ARBEL battery runs out.
AI-driven warfare is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the world. Considering the evolving dynamics and modern warfare of today, our soldiers would benefit immensely with the innovation like ARBEL.
ARBEL contains a rechargeable (field-level changeable) battery, control unit, motion and trigger sensors, and microprocessor. The system doesn't need a particular optical component to work and can be mounted on and combined with a variety of assault rifles and machine guns, including the TAVOR, ACE, and NAGEV. The good part is that ARBEL doesn't require much training, and the weapon doesn't need to be reconfigured. With zero adaption time, it aids in the creation of fully customised weapon profiles. The user can choose the upper receiver and optic combination that best suits the mission at hand. It offers a range of capabilities, including rapid, accurate, and lethal fire, increased hit probability and lethality in stressful combat situations and from less-than-ideal shooting positions, quick strikes on the enemy, proven effectiveness in all terrains of conflict, and environmental adaptability.
AI-driven warfare is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the world. Considering the evolving dynamics and modern warfare of today, our soldiers would benefit immensely with the innovation like ARBEL. It is a good beginning in the era of AI warfare and fast moving and fleeting targets.