BAE Systems: AI and quantum to shape defence strategies

Report from BAE Systems finds that the adoption of AI is surging with the global defence sector, but warns this introduces both new capabilities and risks

Military and defence industry decision-makers believe that ongoing digitalisation has led to a more dynamic and complex ‘information battlespace’, as an increasing number of nations adopt AI and ML.

A report by BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business, Decision Making in the Battlespace of the Future, gathered insights on how 400 defence and aerospace leaders are facing the challenge of maintaining a digital edge over adversaries in a rapidly evolving environment.

It found that greater levels of Multi-Domain Integration - across land, sea, air, cyber and space - will be key as the defence landscape becomes increasingly digitalised. Nine out of 10 respondents said better Multi-Domain Integration would enable a more effective response to grey zone threats, cybersecurity attacks and AI developments with 83% saying it would reduce uncertainty and volatility.

The changing information battlespace

With 86% of respondents agreeing that future wars will be fought in an ‘information battlespace’, it's clear that digital capabilities are central to modern military strategies. Almost all respondents (98%) acknowledged an evolution of processes will be essential for navigating the complexities of modern defence.

The report highlights that, in addition to the challenge of digitalisation, the defence sector faces rapid evolution due to a number of geopolitical factors. These include the return to conventional war in Europe and the requirement to protect against operations within the so-called ‘grey zone’, which consist of activities that sit just beneath the threshold of an act of war. 

Embracing Multi-Domain Integration – whereby every part of defence operates seamlessly together –promotes unified action that allows for more effective responses to cyber-attacks and Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments (93% agree). 

“One of the main benefits of Multi-Domain Integration is operational effectiveness and the ability to access a holistic view of a situation,” Mivy James, Digital Transformation Director, BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business, said. “We’re seeing a decline in the clear distinction between traditional domains in modern warfare and we need to differentiate less between the physical and digital space and create digital threads between domains to manage this evolving threat."

Digital strategies bolstering defences

As adversaries employ increasingly sophisticated digital strategies, 79% of respondents recognise Multi-Domain Integration’s critical role in shaping today's military operations. They acknowledge the intricate nature of Multi-Domain Integration while simultaneously deeming it indispensable - with 91% of those surveyed agreeing Multi-Domain Integration is difficult to implement but essential. 

Sidharth Kaushal, Research Fellow, Sea Power - Military Sciences, RUSI, added: “System integration, spanning domains, nations and industries, inevitably raises cybersecurity concerns. While there’s unanimous agreement on the need for greater integration, particularly in our collaboration with allies, we must be prepared for the inherent challenges this brings. 

“Integration at this scale isn’t just about technology; it’s a transformative journey prompting us to revisit and potentially disrupt long-standing procedures. It’s essential that we approach this evolution with caution, ensuring we balance the promise of unified systems with the potential risks they might introduce.”

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