What are some of the new technology applications in the Ukrainian war?

The Ukrainian war has not only impacted technological innovation but has boosted defence spending in US and the West. “Defence is no longer an abstract, but a reality.”

3 mins read
A Russian soldier launches a drone during the joint Russian, Belarusian and Serbian military exercise "The Slavic Brotherhood" at the military ground Kovin, near Belgrade, on November 7, 2016. (Photo: STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Every war in history has spun new weaponry. The Ukrainian war is also a test ground for new applications, new weapons, According to The Economist, a live tracker at HALO Trust in Scotland, is able to chart Russian bombings, the kind of weapons used, within hours of each incident. This has given Ukraine access to a range of innovations.

Russia too has been prompted to boost its arsenal. This war according to President Putin is not going to end soon. This war has taken things from “abstract to reality”. Who would have contemplated the vision that North Korea will at some time in the near future assist Russia? Who would have contemplated that Ukraine would someday invade its border with the might of Russia?

What is the nature of any war?

To laymen, the nature of war has not fundamentally changed? But, numerous predictions have been made recently how new technologies would function and fare on a battlefield of the future?

We gather emerging technologies like, “hypersonics, drones, electronic warfare, jamming cyber weapons and particularly disinformation” have been emerging and evolving military technologies in the Ukraine battlefield, according to Brookings Institute.

Ukraine was able to get from the United States and its NATO allies, hundreds of armoured vehicles, 155mm Howitzers, HIMARS rockets, 1000’s of Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft weapons.

But, there are more high profile, advanced weapons that US will not provide Ukraine due to political sensitivities. Will US which has now developed a new version of the Stealth Bomber, think of its delivery to Ukraine? All these new technologies developed by US are “classified tech”. But, US has got its NATO ally, Germany, to deliver its first IRIS-T surface to air missile system, to Ukraine?  

The war in Ukraine is seen as a test case?

The war in Ukraine is seen as a test case for “wars of the future”? Although flashy technological transformations are being contemplated, the change to new warfare technology is not on offer.

Sensor based technologies are being seen in a variety of likely settings. We see operational data being collected for Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, there is the training of “online volunteers” who are able to intercept communication among the Russian military units on the warfront in Ukraine.

One of the most innovative war format is skilled military and non-military online volunteers from all locations in the world joining the battlefront “virtually supporting” Ukrainian ground forces. Small “Special Operation” teams are making it difficult to avoid detection of incoming drone warfare.

Not to mention, “social media” too is playing “SMART warfare” to counter disinformation.

What we are witnessing is technology used for civilian use is being used for warfare?

Could you believe, “Crowd Funding” is also being used for military purchases?

How we see Russia counteracting?

Russia too is not inactive. It is using military AI to further use in defence applications. We see “Cyber warfare” is on, in a big way. For its part Russian Oligarchs around the world are not sitting on their laurels. They are pumping in for the war effort. Russia has been able to deploy numerous Iranian produced “Shahed 136 Kamikazi” drones against critical energy infrastructure, such as Ukrainian energy grid for blackouts, blowing up gas pipeline, among others, for maximum impact damage to civilian infrastructure, especially in the bleak Ukrainian winter.

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

ISR is coordinating Russian troop movements and directing civilian strikes in Ukraine. But. is finding it at a disadvantage to combat Ukrainian ingenuity. The culture of innovation is ingrained in the psyche of Ukraine. It has proven very effective and decisive on the battlefield, so essential for long term Ukrainian security. Ukrainians are by nature very creative, with much ingenuity for precision strikes. Robotic and autonomous systems has enabled the flow of information for improvising improvements how “modern tech” is designed and used.

Although Russia’s war has been the driving force all along since February 2022, Ukrainian morale and ingenuity is enabling it to be more agile, faster, with the improbable possibility of sometime in the not too distant future, of even invading its border with Western Russia, which Russia has already contemplated.

For its part Russian experience is relying on its superiority in manpower and of its allies, including North Korea, Syria and Iran for its lifeline needs.

Defence spending in the West

The Ukrainian war has not only impacted technological innovation but has boosted defence spending in US and the West. “Defence is no longer an abstract, but a reality.”

The impact of sanctions, the US$60 ceiling on Russian oil, is ratcheting, it is not all that is contemplated by the US and its NATO allies. At some stage the West may even contemplate removal of Russia as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.

President Putin has said that the war in Ukraine is a long drawn out war and Russia is not “sitting and waiting” for things to happen. What next in Russian arsenal, is on the minds of all nations?

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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