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How AI Is Reshaping The Defence Industry

  • by: Claire Kennett
  • On: 7, Nov 2022
4 min read

New technology has always been used in war to gain the upper hand. Bows were replaced with crossbows which were replaced with guns. Horses were replaced with cars. War has even facilitated and sped up technologies being developed, with radar and computers being famous examples. New technology gives you an edge, and that edge might just be enough to win. 

When it comes to defence, if you’re working with old technology, you’re vulnerable. That’s why by the end of this year, the world will have collectively spent around 2 trillion dollars on defence. The war in Ukraine has made the case for upgrading arsenals and defences clear, prompting some EU countries, like Germany, to almost double their defence budget.

One of the biggest new developments on the horizon of defence technology is artificial intelligence, computer systems which, when given large amounts of data to analyse, are able to learn, becoming smarter, faster, and more efficient.

It’s an emerging field, but by 2025, it’s predicted the US Department of Defence will spend $19 billion on military AI research in a single year. 

AI has played a role in business for years, and has huge implications for virtually every area of life, but when it comes to defence, AI is something no government is ignoring.  

IBM, Ratheon, and Lockheed Martin are all working on AI technology for military use. It’s not a question of if AI will be used in defence, it’s a question of when.

It’s important to understand that Artificial Intelligence is a technological improvement, not a revolutionary weapons system in itself. It requires humans to apply it to problems, use it properly, and ensure the benefits granted by AI are implemented effectively. If this is achieved, it has the potential to drastically change the future of defence.

How AI is changing the defence industry

 Data can be processed and analysed faster

Simulations and war games have been a part of warfare since the creation of the very first armies. Generals have studied the tactics of great leaders throughout history, trying to learn all they can about how to win.

AI can learn faster than any human ever could, able to analyse thousands of data points from past battles, incoming reports, and even live feeds of active war zones.

Unmanned systems like drones can carry out missions remotely and assist with threat monitoring. When combined with satellites, cameras, situation reports, and scanning systems, a complete picture of the battlefield is available to be analysed, studied, and learned from.

From here, it takes a human touch to apply these learnings correctly and increase effectiveness, efficiency, and safety in the field.


AI can also help improve training for soldiers and other members of the military. There are many different areas of combat, all of which require training to fully prepare for. Whether it’s marksmanship, piloting aircraft, operating drones, or using specialist equipment, AI can help improve competency, and teach new skills. AI can be used in conjunction with virtual and augmented reality systems to create dynamic training scenarios and simulations, mirroring real-life missions, and complications which can be difficult to prepare for.

This augmented training is already being used in certain areas of the US army and navy, and will become more common as AI is developed and training in military strategy.


Lastly, cyberwarfare is only going to become more common as smart systems, military commanders, and governments become increasingly connected. Cyberwarfare can lead to a total breakdown in communications, infrastructure disruption, or even hostile attacks on civilian systems.

AI and machine learning can anticipate these threats, and provide greater security against them. AI is so powerful when it comes to cybersecurity because it can autonomously protect networks on a continual basis, recording patterns of attack and creating its own countermeasures.

AI has already changed combat, and will continue to redefine it as we move forward with the technology. It will likely provide the edge to achieve victory that may well have been impossible without it. Personnel throughout the military and defence industries will need to understand the basics of AI, data science, and security, as we develop new suites of operational systems that can, in many ways, defend us from ourselves.

Read about how security leaders can close the cyber skills gap, or learn about the shift to a partnership approach in defence.

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