UAVs that significantly reduce human casualties: What benefits can an ‘innovative army’ bring to humanity? - ANALYTICS
by Ulviyya Zulfikar
People keep inventing various means of self-defense in the developing world with the aim of minimizing the risk of getting hurt. In other words, all this is intended to survive instinctively. Throughout history, we all have witnessed how advanced and cutting-edge weapons changed the fate of wars. Wars, of course, are not a good thing and should be avoided until the last moment, but no one can rule out the possibility of wars. Sometimes, the existence of the most modern weapon seems enough for a country to protect itself from possible wars.
Today, man-made innovations are also aimed at causing the least number of casualties during wars. Conflicts with less human involvement mean fewer psychological traumas and post-war complications. These innovations also lead to a sharp decline in the cases of rehabilitation of the wounded in the post-war period. The innovative army model also means less money, less cost. The application of artificial intelligence in military innovations is a demand in a quickly globalizing world. The world’s powerful armies have already begun giving preference to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and space technology rather than the use of manpower. The use of AI-equipped weapons can also shorten the duration of hostilities. At a time when artificial intelligence covers almost all areas of life, it is impossible to ignore its paramount significance for army building. The application of artificial intelligence to the military sphere is already yielding very effective results.
On the eve of upcoming The Teknofest Azerbaijan event which is planned to be held on May 26-29, it would be very interesting to analyze military potential of countries which are famous for their modern UAVs and technologies.
Turkiye is among a handful of countries that made great strides in this sector. Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2, Bayraktar TB3, Bayraktar Akinci unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) arouse great interest all over the world. At present, these UCAVs are listed among the most demanded drones on a global scale, both in terms of quality and price. Turkiye sees a growing increase in the sale of this military equipment.
For example, an article titled "Turkey's Drone Diplomacy is a Lesson for Europe" was published in the European Council on Foreign Relations. The article stresses that Turkey has shown how drones can be a powerful foreign policy asset. "Turkish UAVs are both cheap and effective. A TB2 costs around $5 million. Also Turkey’s drones provide most of the capabilities of Western ones at a fraction of the price. The list of countries operating Turkish drones has quickly grown to nine, while 16 more – including NATO members.
Speaking to News.Az, Turkish military expert Coskun Bashbug said Turkey is currently focused on the production of not only airborne drones, but also land- and sea-based unmanned vehicles. Bashbug says that Bayraktar Akinci is the last technology that all the world thinks is very successful. It can stay 24 hours in the air, non-stop. Bayraktar Akinci is a High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle. The aircraft has a 5.5+ tons of Maximum takeoff weight while 1350+ kg of this is composed by payload. Akinci is equipped with electronic support and countermeasure systems, dua sattelitte communication systems, air-to-air radar, collision avoidance radar and national advanced synthetic aperture radar. On 22 April 2021, Bayraktar Akıncı UCAV has successfully conducted its first firing tests. “We have completed the #BayraktarTB2 UCAV export contract with one more country. With this agreement, the number of countries where #BayraktarTB2 UCAV has been exported to became 13,” the company said in a Twitter statement lately in october of the last year.
Another country that prefers to use such innovations is Israel. The IAI Harop is developed by the MBT division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is an anti-radiation drone that can autonomously home in on radio emissions. The drone can either operate fully autonomously, using its anti-radar homing system, or it can take a human-in-the-loop mode. If a target is not engaged, the drone will return and land itself back at base.
Israeli expert Mikhail Finkel told News.Az that the weapons used during and after World War II, even nuclear weapons, are considered to be obsolete and illusory. The Israeli expert notes that his country’s army is focused on Hi-technology and keeps expanding the use of AI-equipment robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned tanks and military equipment. Finkel says the Israeli army considers AI applications to be very acceptable. In the army, soldiers are monitored by electromagnetic waves, and invisible antennas are used inside cars. The expert underlines that all this is aimed at reducing casualties and injuries of soldiers, as mentioned above, and thus protecting national security. By the way 2020 saw Israeli defense exports reach $8.3 billion, an increase of 13.7% compared to 2019. Of that 2020 total, 6% were drones, a healthy figure — but less than Israeli firms would like to see.
Israeli drone, the size of an insect. Photo credit: Company Rafael
Finkel added that Israel is producing drones in the size of an insect. It can both attack and gather information. Israel is producing drones from very little size to the standard ones, he says. Each such drone can weigh from a few grams to several hundred grams. Its radius is about 20 cm, that is, we are talking about really miniature models. It can be held in the palm of your hand and launched from there. (https://www.vesty.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5633443,00.html) Flight control is carried out using a miniature robotic all-terrain vehicle, most of all resembling a toy car with a remote control. This all-terrain vehicle is characterized by high cross-country ability and is capable of being controlled from the surface of the earth by several drones at once, broadcasting the video they shoot live. The mechanisms responsible for the operation of drones are relatively quiet. The drones themselves are reusable, they can be returned to the base after completing the task. At the same time, during the development process, special attention was paid to the price of the finished product, which is only a few tens of dollars, so that if necessary, it is quite possible to treat them as disposable weapons.
The first Russian UAV system "Orion" of the HALE class, adopted for service. A still from the NTV "Smotr" program. High technologies: new Russian drones
2020 became a turning point in terms of equipping the Russian armed forces with UAVs of various types. In Russia, for a long time, there was a rather serious lag in the development and adoption of UAVs for service. This is especially true for high-altitude long-range UAVs such as HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance), designed for flights at altitudes over 14 meters, and MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class, at altitudes of 000-4 meters. First of all, this is the adoption into service on April 20, 2020 of the Orion complex, which includes UAVs, which can be attributed to the lower threshold of the HALE class. Also in 2020, presumably completed tests of the heavier UAV "Altair" / "Altius-U" (the last designation "Altius-RU"), which allows us to cautiously expect its appearance in service in 2021. (https://en.topwar.ru/177481-russkaja-valkirija-vedomyj-bpla-grom.html) At the same time, there is a certain class of UAVs for which the absence of satellite communication systems is not a critical drawback. These are UAVs, which are controlled from the side of manned aerial vehicles and with which these UAVs work within the framework of solving one problem. Of the Russian projects, the aforementioned Okhotnik UAV and Thunder UAV are focused on solving this problem.
UGV TALON Gen. IV (USA)
The innovative army model is also used by the United States, China and Russia. The US military operates a large number of unmanned aerial systems, armed robotic vehicles, remote controlled robots etc. Unmanned Aerial Systems no longer only perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, although this still remains their predominant type. Their roles have expanded to areas including electronic attack, drone strikes, suppression or destruction of enemy air defense, network node or communications relay, combat search and rescue, and derivations of these themes. The modern concept of U.S. military UAVs is to have the various aircraft systems work together in support of personnel on the ground. The integration scheme is described in terms of a "Tier" system and is used by military planners to designate the various individual aircraft elements in an overall usage plan for integrated operations. The Tiers do not refer to specific models of aircraft but rather roles for which various models and their manufacturers competed. The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps each has its own tier system, and the two systems are themselves not integrated. In August 2021, the United States launched the COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery program.
Similarly, the Union Minister of India announced integrating a drone delivery system to deliver COVID-19 vaccines and medicines and collect blood samples. Such initiatives may ramp up the requirement of unmanned aerial vehicles during the forecast period. The PLA Air Force (China) operates advanced unmanned systems with limited autonomy that could be upgraded to include greater autonomy, while exploring options for manned-unmanned teaming. Chinese companies are leaders in the global civilian drone industry and China is the second largest drone market in the world, after the United States. Chinese drone manufacturer DJI alone has 74% of civilian-market share in 2018, with no other company accounting for more than 5%, and with $11 billion forecast global sales in 2020.
Estonia is the most interested country in Europe in UAVs. The Estonian government which aims to build and maintain an efficient export-based high-tech Europe-wide defence sector by encouraging cooperation between the Estonian Armed Forces and the country’s defence industry. Milrem –an Estonian robotic vehicle manufacturer– is this ambition’s best example, particularly with its THeMIS vehicle (short for Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System). The so-called “pocket tank” was designed to play a variety of roles, from logistics to reconnaissance.
TheMIS UGV 5th generation
However, the unmanned aerial vehicles market is expected to register a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of over 7% during the forecast period (2022-2027). (https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/uav-market) The global UAV drone market accounted for $19,528.6 million in 2019 and is predicted to grow with a CAGR of 19.9% by generating a revenue of $55,649.0 million by 2027. Analyses show that in the close future the market for UAV drone will be the most dominant in North America, the fastest growing in the Asia-Pacific.
In 2001 the United States became the first country to use a true armed drone in combat. (https://emerj.com/ai-sector-overviews/unmanned-aerial-vehicles-uavs/) Now there are at least 28 countries with armed drones in their military, and we know at least nine (the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan) have actually used them in operations. The United States is by far the largest researcher, producer, and user of military drones. The Teal Group projects that the United States will account for 77% of total military worldwide research, development, test & evaluation (RDT&E) spending on UAVs in the coming decade and just over half of all military procurement. The state of Israel is believed to be the largest military UAV exporter in the world. China has rapidly become an increased user of drones for its own military and an exporter of these systems to other countries. Major and minor militaries around the world see UAVs as the future of airpower. The United States’ massive military budget and long history of cutting edge military research effectively guarantees it will be a major source of military UAV spending and investment. The United States’ restrictions on military equipment sales, though, means Israel and China will continue to play a big role in the international market. Some forecasts envisage that the market for military drones will grow from nearly $11.3 billion in 2021 to about $26.1 billion in 2028. Turkish drones have made a name for themselves in the past couple of years Consequently, Turkey’s defense and aerospace equipment exports have more than doubled since 2012, exceeding $3 billion in 2021
It is worth mentioning that Azerbaijan, by using cutting-edge and innovative unmanned aerial vehicles and military equipment during the 44-day war in 2020 to liberate its occupied territories, also attracted the attention of the whole world. Azerbaijan’s combat operations during the war are considered modern battles. Numerous countries have analyzed these battles and praised their strategy.
Ulviyya Zulfikar is the editor-in-chief of News.Az