Is India prepared for the future warheads with Artificial Intelligence?

In the last few years, artificial intelligence (AI) adoption has become increasingly widespread. With almost no industry remaining untouched, AI is changing the way we do our work, interact with others, shop online, watch content, and make decisions.

In the business world, AI has enabled companies to save costs, make better informed decisions in comparatively less time while relying on more information. We see robo advisors, chat bots, personalised recommendation systems, search engines, AI assisted hiring systems and several such use cases that are changing the way businesses function. AI has further enabled the emerging technologies such as Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR). Such innovation is expected to fundamentally change the way we live.

However, the flip side of AI is very worrying. It has led to many nations now racing to achieve a strategic advantage by using AI innovation in their military services for national security and this is believed to change the way the countries would fight wars in future.

The question is how far the countries have reached in this AI race, who is leading this race and how India is preparing itself for the future AI-enabled wars? Let us understand these things in this article.


India has been taking crucial steps towards the deployment of AI-based innovation in its combat and surveillance projects.

In 2018, the Ministry of Défense of the Indian Government (MoD) asked the NITI Aayog to create a roadmap for the Research and Development of AI applications in the armed forces. The NITI Aayog then published a white paper, titled National Strategy for AI, along with its recommendations for setting up a task force for  Strategic Implementation of AI for National Security and Defence.

Later on, in the 2018 Year-End Review of the MoD, the Indian Navy concluded that it had divided the AI Use Cases into short, medium, and long-term goals for efficient implementation.

The further developments concerning the use of AI as per different media reports are as under:

►    Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) announced the development of a first responder robot in 2018. The idea behind such a robot is to comprehensively  secure the Indian borders. Researchers are currently assembling preliminary requirements for design and proper implementation of the project. Partnering companies have also conducted several training programs so that a healthy rivalry can evolve amongst different stakeholders.

►    In 2019, MoD established a high-level Defence AI Council (DAIC) to offer strategic direction to adopt AI in defence. DAIC initiates cooperation between government and the industry for deployment of such innovations.

►    In May 2019, BEL also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defence, in which  BEL had planned to invest an estimated ₹40-50 crore per annum on AI-related projects over the next three years i.e. from 2019 to 2022.

►    In addition to that, BEL is believed to be currently working on following major projects related to AI:

1.   Facial recognition for security applications,

2.   IoT-based platform maintenance

3.   Social networking analysis,

4.   Robotics surveillance platform

5.   Automated information extraction and synthesis

►    Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), which is a DRDO laboratory, has initiated a project in January 2019, to develop AI-based solutions for signal intelligence which will help aggravate intelligence, collation and capability to cater to a constructive analysis for the armed forces. The AI-based tools used in the development of the project will strategically help the defence forces in areas such as decision support, sensor data analysis, predictive maintenance, situational awareness, accurate data extraction, and security.

►    In July 2018, a pilot program focusing on electronic surveillance systems was initiated. The project known as The Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) integrated AI-enabled recognition of images  and in-built alerts that would assist the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel with identifying intruders if they try to enter the Indian territory. The system is intended to be implemented on almost the entirety of a 2,000 km-long vulnerable stretch along the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The project has been partially completed for the India-Pakistan border in Jammu and some of the adjacent sectors along the border, while it is still in progress for the border areas adjoining Bangladesh.

►    Rustom 2 UAV is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle that has the ability to carry different combinations of payloads like synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems, and situational awareness payloads. It is developed specifically for the requirements of the three wings of Indian Military and is developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) a subset of the DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and Bharat Electronics Limited. Rustom 2 UAV was successfully tested by DRDO in February 2018.

►    DRDO is also working towards the development of the Multi Agent Robotics Framework. This is a system that will enable the Indian Army’s battlefield robots to cooperate with each other extensively on surveillance and reconnaissance. Other projects associated with DRDO includes the development of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNe) UAVs to detect radiation, as well as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for surveillance and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) disposal.

►    CRON Systems is an AI startup based in New Delhi. It has been using data mining capabilities to evaluate seasonal data for border infiltration patterns. The KV product line offered by the company is powered by infrared and laser which offers a breach notification at all points irrespective of the weather or terrain. It has been implemented on the Indo-Pak border.

►    The IMSAS is an exceptional, high performance intelligent software system, built entirely in India. It was developed by Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and Indian Navy and was implemented by BEL, Bengaluru.  It provides Global Maritime Situational Picture, Marine planning tools and capabilities that can potentially boost the analytical abilities of the Indian Navy. The system has the ability to provide Maritime Operational Picture from Naval Headquarters to each individual ship in sea so that Naval Command and control can be enabled accordingly.


After having discussed how India is preparing to use AI for its defence, let's discuss what are the major use cases of AI in the military.

AI can be used in diverse capacities across different dimensions of the military sector in combat or otherwise.

The top 10 use cases of AI in military are as follows:

1.  Cybersecurity

Military systems are often susceptible to cyber-attacks, resulting in a substantial loss of classified military information and damage to military systems. However, systems equipped with AI can protect networks, computers, programs, and data from any kind of unauthorized access on its own. Subsequently, AI-enabled web security systems have the ability to record the pattern of cyber-attacks and develop counter-attack tools to befittingly respond to them.

2.  Logistics and Transportation

AI is expected to play an instrumental role in military logistics and transport. The effective transportation of goods, ammunition, armaments, and troops is an important component of affirmative military operations. Integrating AI with military transportation can reduce the cost of transportation human operational efforts. It also empowers military fleets to easily detect anomalies and predict component failures accordingly.

3.  Combat Simulation

Training and simulation of military personnel is a multidisciplinary field that clubs system engineering, software engineering, and computer science to construct computerized models that equip soldiers with the various combat systems deployed during military operations.

4.  Healthcare in Battlefield

As far as combat healthcare is concerned, there are full-fledged Robotics Surgical systems and Robotics Ground Platforms which can provide remote surgical support and evacuation activities. AI can be integrated with these systems to assist them in these activities effectively.

5.  Data Information Processing

Involvement of AI is particularly useful for quickly and efficiently processing large volumes of data in order to obtain valuable information. AI can assist in aggregating information from a wide variety of datasets, acquire and then sum supersets of information from various sources. This advanced analysis is significant for military personnel to in turn, recognize patterns and derive correlations.

6.  Monitoring Potential Threat

Threat monitoring and awareness of a particular situation is often heavily dependent on Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operations. These operations are also abbreviated as ISR operations, and they are utilised to acquire and process information to support a range of military activities. Unmanned systems used to carry out ISR missions can either be remotely operated or sent on a predefined route.

7.  Warfare Platforms

Défense forces from different countries across the globe are incorporating AI into weapons and other systems across land, sea, air and space platforms. Using AI in these systems enables the development of effective warfare systems, which are less dependent on human input. It has also led to increased cooperation and enhanced performance of warfare systems while requiring less maintenance.

8.  Target Recognition

AI systems are being developed to increase the accuracy of target recognition in complex combat environments. These techniques allow Défense forces to gain a detailed understanding of possible operation areas by creating analysis reports, documents, news feeds, and other forms of unstructured information. In addition to that, AI in target recognition systems improves the ability of these systems to identify the position of their targets.

9.  Object location

Classic methods of location at sea include the use of various types of radar stations, air patrols, maritime patrols, remotely controlled drones or satellites. In recent years, the automatic identification system (AIS) has also become extremely popular. The system provides a lot of information about marine traffic. Due to a large amount of processed data, it is not always effective. Instead, various machine learning approaches are used to monitor and inform about any anomaly—the movement that deviates from predetermined  standards.

10. Robots on Battlefield

One of the most important goals of modern technology on the battlefield is to protect the health and lives of soldiers deployed in the warzone. A solution often proposed in this regard is to bring the machines onto the battlefield. The robots can move on their own, detect and avoid obstacles, follow a predetermined route, as well as recognize and respond to voice messages coming from the surrounding environment.


India’s progress in the field of using AI for defence could be understood well when compared to the progress of other countries.

Let us understand the AI initiatives taken by other countries in this regard:


►      The US Department of Defence is estimated to have spent around $7.4 billion on artificial intelligence, Big Data, and cloud in 2017 itself. Its Défense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is sponsoring  the development of a robotic submarine system which will be employed in areas such as detection of underwater mines and engagement in anti-submarine operations.

►      Recently, the US Army also collaborated with tech giants IBM in order to use its Watson artificial intelligence platform to help identify maintenance problems in Stryker combat vehicles before a crisis situation arrives.

►      DARPA has recently incorporated the TRACE program in its system. TRACE, which stands for Target Recognition and Adaptation in Contested Environments uses machine learning techniques to self-locate and identify targets with the help of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images.

►      Both the US Navy and Army have been conducting warfare analysis, which has resulted in the beginning  of several sensor simulation programs. The US Navy has listed companies such as Leidos, SAIC, AECOM, and Orbital ATK to support their programs. On the other hand, US Army’s programs are supported by firms such as SAIC, CACI, Torch Technologies, and Millennium Engineering.

►      With these initiatives, the USA could be said to be leading the race of AI in the military. However, China is the strongest competitor in this space too and soon expected to probably surpass the USA too.

2.  China

►      China is heavily aggressive on the use of AI and has made huge progress in the last 3 years. Several research studies suggest that China has probably surpassed the USA in this race and if not done already, it would be surpassing soon in the near future.

►      In 2017, China’s State Council announced three stages for the development of AI. These stages are as follows:

i)            Establishing a competitive advantage in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

ii)           Generating the development of new industries.

iii)          Augmenting and strengthening national security

►      In addition to that, the current five-year plan of PRC has  established the roadmap for Research and Development, investment, and integration of AI with areas in which technical expertise is required. AI also ranks 6th out of the 69 priority tasks for the Chinese government.


The UK government has also been undertaking projects similar to that of the US as a part of its Research & Development Roadmap of July 2020.

The United Kingdom’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is working in close coordination with the Institute for Security Science and Technology at Imperial’s White City Campus to bring together government, academia, industry, and small & medium-sized enterprises on board so that the next generation of solutions for security and defence problems can be comprehensively developed.


Russia is also reportedly investing huge sums of money and resources in AI for detection and debunking misinformation in defence. Russia has recently been enhancing its defence capabilities by developing and deploying Unmanned Ground Vehicles, AI-enabled satellites, Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and Unmanned ground warfare platforms.


►    The Israel Defence Forces have reportedly established an advanced AI platform that has centralised all data on extremist groups in the Gaza Strip and incorporated the collected data into a system that has enabled the timely analysis and extraction of intelligence.

►    Soldiers in Unit 8200, which is an Intelligence Corps elite unit of the IDF, have mastered algorithms and codes that led to several new programmes such as  “Alchemist,” “Gospel” and “Depth of Wisdom,”. These programmes were developed and used extensively during the fighting.

►    IDF Unit 9900’s satellites were used to track changes in terrain instantly and on its own. For instance, the troops detected 14 rocket launchers located next to a school.

D.  Way forward for India

While India has taken several steps to promote innovation in the field of AI and its adoption in defence forces, we are lagging far behind when compared to the initiatives taken by other major countries including the countries that pose a security threat.

The government would need to work on a mission mode to accelerate AI deployment across industry sectors including the military. We need to nurture our research institutions and startups.

India has been home to the IT workforce for the whole world and there is no lack of talent. However, the onus is on the government to channelise that talent and give an appropriate direction.

On the security front, India is continuously facing tensions on its northern and western borders from the neighbouring countries. There are several internal security challenges such as preventing terror attacks, curbing Naxalites etc. where emerging AI technologies such as face detections could provide effective solutions.

E.  How Indika AI can help

Indika AI is a global data annotation service company that has been helping some of the advanced AI companies across all industry sectors to build state-of-the-art AI models.

We provide data annotation services for computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning. Our team of domain experts, data scientists, AI/ML engineers and experienced annotators has experience of working with all types of data such as text, images, videos, and speech/ audios.

We can work with the government & military bodies to accelerate the deployment of AI. The unique advantage of working with us would include:

1.     Data Security – The defence projects would usually require a very high level of data security requirements. Indika AI works with ISO 27001 certified security practices and strict NDAs with all the stakeholders. We are a fully India based company and therefore, the Indian data remains in India.

2.     Domain Experts - We have a panel of AI experts with deep expertise in Computer Vision, NLP, and Machine Learning.

3.     Employment – We can provide training to retired military officials for the annotation work. This would generate employment opportunities for the retired officials and in turn, allow us to leverage their on-ground experience to train the AI models.

                                                                                              Write to for any enquiries.


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