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India finally taking some steps to leverage AI for military applications | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India is now finally taking some steps towards ensuring effective use of artificial intelligence (AI) in fighting conflicts, which is fast becoming a critical operational necessity that may well decide the outcome of wars in the future.
Top officials say the defence establishment, ranging from the Army, Navy and IAF to DRDO labs, is increasingly focusing on AI to enable faster decision-making and shortening the sensor-to shooter loop, AI-powered surveillance and weapon systems.
But it’s early days yet. India should get cracking on “a national mission-mode action plan” to effectively leverage AI and ML (machine learning) for military applications, with concrete participation from the IT industry and academia, the officials said.
China, of course, is leagues ahead with its long-standing focus on “informatized” and “intelligentized” warfare. “AI, ML, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), robotics and cyberwarfare have been major thrust areas for the People’s Liberation Army…It has taken huge strides in them,” a senior officer said.
The Indian defence establishment, on its part, now has a Defence Artificial Intelligence Council (DAIC) led by the defence minister to provide overall guidance and support. Defence minister Rajnath Singh, incidentally, had earlier declared that “25 defence-specific AI products” will be developed by 2024.
A Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA) has also been created under the secretary (defence production), with Rs 100 crore earmarked annually for AI-enabled projects.
Individual services are also cranking up their own efforts. The Navy, for instance, has 30 ongoing AI projects encompassing autonomous systems, maritime domain awareness, perimeter security, decision-making, predictive inventory maintenance and management.
Apart from setting up an “AI core group”, the Navy is also creating an AI centre of excellence at INS Valsura in Jamnagar, which already has a modern lab on AI and Big Data analysis.
The Army, too, has several schemes underway on contemporary and emerging AI technologies. Apart from civil industry partnerships, an AI centre of excellence has been established at the Military College for Telecommunication Engineering in Mhow.
Application-oriented research in AI is also being conducted at two dedicated DRDO labs, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) and DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory (DYSL)-AI, both at Bengaluru. Moreover, all DRDO system labs have started AI technology groups to introduce AI features in all products.
But with countries like the US and China galloping towards AI-driven warfare, there is widespread acceptance that much more needs to be done on this “disruptive technology” front to boost the combat capability and survivability of Indian forces. “The Israel-Hamas conflict last year firmly underscored the power of AI,” said Army chief General M M Naravane, at a seminar recently.
“Improved situational awareness, fusion of sensors, faster decision-making, use of autonomous weapons, and integration of AI into every facet of warfare, will necessitate changes to war fighting doctrines, organisations and structures, training methodology and leadership. For militaries across the world as well as for us, this remains an ongoing challenge, and a work in progress,” he added.

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