Since the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, numerous analyses, including on this site, have focused on the various lessons that these very high intensity combats were able to bring to light, such as the now indisputable role of the tank but also artillery, coastal or anti-aircraft defenses, and of course drones, to only talk about the technological question. And in fact, many armies have evolved their military planning in recent months precisely to respond to these lessons. This is how Poland embarked on an unprecedented effort to reconstitute a very powerful land force aligning 6 divisions, 1,250 heavy tanks, at least 1,400 infantry fighting vehicles, 700 self-propelled guns and another 500 rocket launchers. Long range. However, a certain number of technologies currently being developed or disseminated are not, or very little, used by Ukraine or Russia in this war, even though they have the potential to profoundly transform the conduct of military operations from 2030. In this article, we will study 7 of these critical emerging technologies, and their potential impact on warfare beyond 2030: the massive arrival of drones, active defense systems, hypersonic weapons, stealth and passive systems, directed energy weapons, multi-domain C2 systems and Artificial Intelligence.
1- Drones and Robotization, a partial response to the mass
Drones and, to a certain extent, robotic technologies, are already used by both Russia and Ukraine in this conflict. It is also the first conflict (and not the first time) in which drones are used as strategic weapons to destroy civilian installations and targets. However, most of the equipment is used individually, for the benefit of a single tactical theater, often to carry out reconnaissance, guide an artillery strike or strike the adversary, far from the doctrines of using drones in course of diffusion in the world's major armies, particularly in the United States and China. Indeed, in the years to come, the use of drones will tend to become widespread for all operational levels, offering a wide range of services ranging from reconnaissance to logistics, including saturation or dismantling strikes. targeted elimination. Therefore, if drones are well used in Ukraine, the scale on which they are used, but also the performance of the machines and their operational capacities, are still very far from the equipment currently being developed, such as the Remote Carrier and the Loyal Wingmen in the air force, autonomous ships and submarines in the naval domain, or even autonomous robots and swarms of drones in the land domain. Beyond the specialization of drones, they will also offer significant cooperation and integration capabilities with allied battlefield systems, well beyond their current use.
Robotization, too, has joined the battlefield, not only through the various fully autonomous systems, but also within piloted systems, so as to replace, where possible, human action. Again, this is nothing new. Thus, the automatic loading systems of the Russian T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks, but also of the Leclerc or the South Korean K2, made it possible to reduce the crew of the armored vehicle to only 3 members, compared to 4 at aboard the Abrams or the Leopard 2 which do not have it, by precisely replacing the loader station. Robotization will thus make it possible not only to reduce the crews of armored vehicles or support vehicles, but also those of combat ships, and many other systems. Whether it is drones or robotic applications, it is a question of systematically replacing with technology a mission which, until now, was the responsibility of soldiers, and thus providing a partial response to the mass problem, and particularly in terms of human resources, including by reducing the effects of attrition on what promises to be the most valuable element for the armies in the years to come, the soldier himself, increasingly difficult to recruit, train, and retain.
In fact, in 2030, drones will constitute the heart of many critical missions, such as air superiority, reconnaissance, deep strikes, suppression of defenses or even fire support, in all 4 elements (Earth, air, sea and space). Robotic systems, for their part, will act as a force multiplier, allowing more equipment to be aligned on the same human force base. The mastery of robotic and drone technologies will therefore condition not only the effectiveness of the forces, but also the mass of forces available, partly compensating for the weakness of recruitment in the armies.
2- Soft and Hard-Kill active protection systems for the return of offensive dominance
Since the end of the First World War, and the simultaneous arrival of armored vehicles and tactical aviation, high-intensity wars have, most often, given a clear advantage to the offensive and maneuver over purely defensive postures. . Apart from a few conflicts, notably the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988, this offensive superiority was very rarely denied throughout the 20th century for high-intensity engagements, even if hybrid and insurrectionary warfare certainly posed challenges. very serious problems for the American armies in Vietnam and the Soviet armies in Afghanistan. The beginning of the 21st century seemed to follow the same dynamic, as during the second Gulf War, or in Nagorno-Karabakh. From then on, it was a big surprise for many staffs and strategists, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine transformed into a positional war from the spring of 2022, marking a clear return of defensive predominance in this type of war. conflict.
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