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Ukraine is a Battle Lab for AI and Drones

By: NewsUSA

(NewsUSA) - “There is no greater catalyst for military innovation than warfare,” according to experts at the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP), a bipartisan nonprofit organization. The ability to innovate and adapt in a battlefield setting may make a life or death difference. This importance of innovation is especially true regarding technology, and the current war in Ukraine is a prime example.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has become “a technological arms race” said Andrey Liscovich, CEO of the Ukraine Defense Fund, in a recent interview with SCSP. “What worked yesterday may stop working today; what worked today may not work tomorrow,” he said, “Both sides must constantly adapt.”

Two key developments in warfare technology have emerged during the Ukraine/Russia conflict, according to the SCSP and their expert analysts: data and drones.

Data-driven decisions. A wave of Ukrainian software engineers has marshalled to assist their country’s government and military, providing digital information and applications needed to support forces on the ground. For example, Ukrainians are currently working with U.S. companies using artificial intelligence (AI) to sift through multiple data streams to identify targets. This capability is particularly important given the Ukrainians’ relative lack of spare ammunition, and the need to hit the largest number of enemy targets with the smallest number of munitions. In addition, a battle command application based on a concept described as “Uber for artillery” uses information fed into it from Ukrainian citizens and soldiers. The technology also can draw on data from NATO systems and provide intelligence for Ukrainian forces.

Drone deployment. The use of drones in warfare is not new, but both Ukraine and Russia are using drones on a large scale. Both sides have employed massive attack drone swarms to overwhelm the enemy’s air defenses, which struggle to detect and target the small, fast-moving objects. For the Ukrainian military, drones have replaced aircraft on the battlefield as the primary means of air-delivered strikes. Small drones also serve as “flying binoculars” for surveillance and targeting.

The war in Ukraine continues to illustrate the game-changing nature of data and drones in military action, and the United States would do well to take notice, according to the experts at SCSP. As one military analyst said, “Big centralized western air forces and artillery organizations now have a combat relevance problem . . . as drones provide some of the big platforms firepower capabilities very cheaply.” The U.S. Department of Defense should speed the adoption of small, unmanned, many, and smart weapons to pose multiple dilemmas to an adversary, the SCSP experts emphasize.

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