Modern Warfare and Autonomous Weapons: Destructive ways of Alternative Technologies in India

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The South Asian region is continuously unstable due to a rampant arms race that sees no end. In the 21st century, where emerging alternative technology has become the new normal of warfare, India and Pakistan persistently acquire modernized weapons. The Indian Armed forces have keenly projected interest in developing indigenous modernized weapons. The Indian military began the acquisition and incorporation of modern armaments with automated drones in 2019 as a part of a modernization campaign. Modern weaponry – equipped with disruptive technology – plays a significant role in information sharing, improved situation awareness, speed of command, and enhanced mission effectiveness. However, modern warfare, situational awareness and battlefield operability failed miserably in recent Indian military tactics against Pakistan and China. The planned modernization of the Indian military materializes it as an offensive force in South Asia’s strategically unstable region. Amidst the arms race, the transformation of alternative technologies to destructive technologies questions the credibility of a combat zone charged with autonomous tactical weapons. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a highlight in developing the arms race incorporating modern technology. It has become a salient feature of modernized weapons as a technology-based force multiplier.

Indian fighter crafts and helicopters are falling like flies from the sky, submarines are catching fire, and foot soldiers ambushed in Jammu and Kashmir and Galwan Valley point towards the flawed operational capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian military has repeatedly failed to perform and succeed with the interoperability among the tri-services during exercises, strikes, missions and retaliations. Witnessed at various occasions, the Indian Armed Forces lacked jointness and integration in its strategic, tactic and operational capabilities, the critical focus of the Joint Doctrine of Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) 2017. JDIAF aims to bring inclusiveness and enhanced operability among the tri-services and strategic forces functioning across multiple theatres.

Indian military currently comprises of seven theatre commands, each for Army and Air Force and three for the Indian Navy, along with the Andaman Nicobar Command and the Strategic Forces Command. Under the Chief of Defence Staff, India’s Integrated Defence Department aimed to bring all the services under one integrated tri-services command. It is set to roll out theatre commands for the Indian Armed Forces equipped with modern and automated weapons. However, the previous record performance of the Indian Armed Forces and mishandling of the weapon systems where it “accidentally fired” a missile across the international borders of Pakistan manifests their inability of handling modern and autonomous lethal weapons.

India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has been involved in the R&D of Direct Energy Weapons, gun-mounted remotely operated vehicles, canasterized nuclear weapons (Agni-V) and swarm-based self–healing minefields. The most crucial project rolled out by DRDO is the unmanned remotely operated tank “Muntra”, that comes with three variants. Muntra-S, Muntra-M and Muntra-N have proven efficiency in surveillance, mine detection and reconnaissance in a strategic location. The indigenous R&D of Robots for armed forces is a crucial part of the Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) under the new program of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India”. The program has brought together government and private organizations working incessantly on producing autonomous weapons. Indian Armed Forces diligently inducted autonomous weapons despite the international community’s criticism.

Artificial Intelligence has become an essential element of emerging technologies in warfare, where LAWS is significantly revolutionizing the future of war. However, it has managed to garner criticism from the international community to be depriving the conflict of the essential “human factor”. The role of AI in LAWS as an immoral life threat is undeniable. The world is aiming to move against the notion of developing such weaponry. Yet there are states such as India that have taken the stance to create autonomous weapon systems. India believes in the decisive role of technology in the modern conventional arms race. Hence, the argument is that to avoid technology apartheid, it must carry forward with the R&D of these lethal systems. Indian stance on LAWS exposes its double standards. India believes that the technology gap must be prevented among nations while controlling the proliferation of deadly weapons and development while engaged in the development of lethal robots for armed forces. It must not fall behind in the future arms race. India has forgotten humanity in the race of modernization and automation for its armed forces.

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