Impact of Future Technologies on the Global Defense Market, 2019–2029
This is an age of rapid technological change, with new lines of thought driving novel innovations and business models. As a result, limitations are beginning to emerge in the technological capabilities of the current military to counter new threats. The emergence of new technologies has exposed military forces to new vulnerabilities, which requires new strategies to deal with a level of threat that has become more lethal, diverse, hybrid, and versatile. The defense industry is in the early stages of transition. Previously, research in the sector was driven by military investment and its benefits were conferred first to the military space before others. However, research is now being driven by civilian investment, resulting in a paradigm shift. This is having an effect on how technologies are being developed, with dual-use technologies becoming more prevalent on the battlefield, where new combinations of existing technologies are being combined in novel ways to achieve the desired capabilities.
Development of new technologies in the defense market by civilian companies has been able to outpace the traditional incumbents in the defense market due to a number of factors. Traditionally, development of technologies in the defense market was characterized by long development cycles, where there was a need for reliable, robust, and complex systems with dependence on public funding. On the contrary, modern commercial companies are characterized by faster innovation loops and increasing private investment. They focus on rapid prototyping and testing with short lead times to production. This philosophy of modern commercial companies drives rapid innovation and development.
Future technological advancements will be increasingly interlinked, wherein the advancements in one technology spur the development on adjacent and complementary technologies. Anticipating the future of the armed forces requires the tracking of all these interlinked technologies, as a breakthrough in any technology can have a positive or negative impact on a related technology. As commercially developed technologies are not dependent on defense funding, they usually cross over into different sectors. These companies may not even be aware of the implications that their technology would have on the defense sector; hence, it is not the technology that determines technological superiority on the battlefield, but rather the doctrine that deploys these technologies that exploits them to their maximum potential.
As a consequence, potential future technologies need to be assessed early in a new product development and production cycle to maximize the impact and minimize the risk. This means current technological trends and developments need to be constantly monitored and evaluated, with a broad-enough focus to venture beyond immediate defense research and cross over into civilian research with dual-use potential. Convergence of multi-disciplinary technologies, such as information technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and meta-materials, will have a wide variety of civilian and military applications.
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