Particularly, the dependence of states on various technologies for war fighting could be said to have brought in the concept of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). This involves induction of computer networks that confer information superiority, allows precision strikes on the targets, permits dominant maneuver, and undertakes usage of space based assets for militaristic purposes. Basic important aspects of the RMA are the advent of trustworthy standoff weapons.
Also, induction of weapons like JDAMS (Joint direct attack munitions), delivered over a target from an aircraft with the help of global navigational systems like GPS has helped the states to avoid collateral damage. Such weapons could be dropped from higher heights and under any other weather conditions. It needs to be mentioned here that the concept of RMA goes beyond technology. It also involves doctrine, strategy, training, administrative support, etc. But, the entire process of doctrine and strategy development would have to have the technology premise at its backdrop.
Nano-technologies have wider applicability both in electronics and materials. It would eventually make ships, aircrafts and spacecrafts further lighter and stronger. This would allow the states to use them more effectively and offers wider flexibility in terms of flying heights and load carrying capabilities.
Presently, RMA technologies are changing the nature of war-waging by enabling precise destruction of targets from a distance and speeding up the processes of decision making. This quest for modernization caters for emerging capabilities of states potential adversaries, cost factor and raising the technological threshold of armed forces. This advent of the RMA clearly indicates how technology plays an important role in regard to national security.
Over the years states have understood that science and technology investment enables them to counter military threats and to overcome any advantages that adversaries may seek. It also expands the military options available to policymakers, including options other than warfare in pursuing the objectives of promoting stability and preventing conflict. The militaries also rely on science and technology to make advanced military systems more affordable through their entire life cycle period. For this purpose there is a need for the defence science and technology community to maintain a close dialogue with the militaries and remain sensitive to users need. They also need to educate the user to the possibilities that technology offers for responding to evolving threats.
In the past it has been observed that every industrial revolution had outcomes in the form of technology innovation which in turn had direct or indirect impacts on the military architecture of nation-states. The innovation of the steam engine can be termed as the beginning of first industrial revolution because this period saw the textile industry and mechanical engineering as noteworthy outcomes (1780-1840). The second industrial revolution (1840-1900) begun with the emergence of railways and steel industry, whereas the third revolution (1900-1950) produced electric engine, heavy chemicals, automobiles and consumer durables.
Post 1950 could be said to have started the fourth revolution that started in 1950s with dominance on oil industry and information technology. Military technology (in some form or other) has impacted all these various phases of industrial revolutions. From simple detonators to nuclear weapons to submarines to intercontinental ballistic missiles to fifth generation fighter aircrafts, the military technologists have always provided various weapons and weapon delivery platform options to the states for the purposes of safeguarding their national interests.
Two technologies that have dominated the entire landscape of military revolution particularly during last two to three decades, are information technology (IT) and space technologies. The presence of both these technologies has been instrumental in bringing the concept of network centric warfare to reality. These technologies have succeeded in converting the modern day battle fields into digital battlefields. C4ISR capabilities and network-centric tactics have become an important element of war fighting in the 21st century.
IT revolution and military utility of various space technologies have made a significant impact on the states preparedness level. It has dictated the policy making in regard to national security strategy, military doctrine, and operational concepts in regard to many states.
Modern day commanders require almost real time digital picture of the battlefield and this has become possible because of both these technologies. Sensor technology has also been instrumental towards digitizing the battlefield. Multi-spectral sensors are increasingly being used in equipments and platforms used for war fighting in all four dimensions, viz. land, sea, air and space based platforms. Various IT tools have helped towards bringing in sophistication and speed in various military platforms. Space technologies are relevant for the purposes of communication and navigation. They also have a significant role towards guiding the standoff weapons.
Satellites are found extremely important for the purposes of intelligence gathering. Particularly remote sensing satellites are significant for the purposes of reconnaissance and imagery intelligence. Specific satellites are found playing a significant role towards gaining intelligence. Satellites are useful for the purposes of electronic intelligence (ELINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), communication intelligence (COMINT), and radar intelligence (RADINT).
IT revolution and military utility of various space technologies have made a significant impact on the state’s preparedness level. It has dictated the policy making in regard to national security strategy, military doctrine, and operational concepts in regard to many states. However, the availability of such technology, still more or less remains restricted to the hands of few states and hence there exists a ‘digital divide’ amongst the few developed states (and their allies to whom such technology has been transferred by them) and others.
Such a divide clearly elucidates the fact that the era of making militaries numerically stronger would fast be replaced with militaries that are digitally stronger. IT and space technologies being at the heart of the RMA has partially succeeded from shifting the focus from weapon-centric warfare to network-centric warfare.
Two basic technologies which are being discussed for their potentiality and are expected to change the face of future war fighting are the nano-technology and bio-technology. These technologies are likely to make the fifth industrial revolution a reality. Nano-technologies have wider applicability both in electronics and materials. It would eventually make ships, aircrafts and spacecrafts further lighter and stronger. This would allow the states to use them more effectively and offers wider flexibility in terms of flying heights and load carrying capabilities.