Initial Steps Towards India’s Usage Of Ai To Aid In Defense


The year 2023 was the month that, during an online G20 summit held by India, PM Narendra Modi spoke about global worries about the ‘negative impact of AI. 

These remarks were slightly more pessimistic than those made days earlier by his information technology minister, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, at the Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit in the United Kingdom. 

While there are some general concerns the government may have concerning AI security, it is working hard to discover ways to use the technology for military purposes to stay competitive in the global market, especially in the escalating strategic battle within the Indian Ocean region between New Delhi and Beijing. 

China is a world-class player in the AI sector and is likely to develop innovative military applications with only a tiny portion of its defense budget (perhaps less than 1-2% over the following years). Pakistan is taking steps to obtain AI capabilities for its national defense.

Race to Build AI Capabilities

The race to build the nation’s AI capabilities has intensified since the public release of compelling large-language models in the latter half of 2022. However, India’s current efforts are based upon work that started before this concept demonstration. 

India introduced its first strategy for national development on AI in June 2018, and at the same time, the government’s AI task force made specific defense suggestions. 

They included the formation beginning in 2019 of a top-level Defence AI Council and a Defence AI Project Agency.

A year ago, India’s government announced a list of 75 priority projects dealing with AI to protect the nation. 

They focussed on data processing, research, cyber security autonomous systems, and simulations, especially drones. India is also pursuing AI applications to improve underwater border security and domain awareness. 

The ongoing effort to integrate AI solutions in its civilian space program could also have indirect defense applications. In addition, at the AI Summit in New Delhi in December 2023, The Prime Minister is hoping to leverage the vast private sector AI workforce as well as dual-use technology for defense as well as in its plans to increase (from 11 percent to 22 percent) the contribution of the digital economy to GDP by 2026.

Early Efforts To Defend

In 2021, the Indian Army demonstrated an AI-enabled 75 drones that could fly in the air and employed AI for surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance during the Dakshin Shakti military exercise. 

Although the nature, number, and outcome of public-private initiatives that deal with AI are not public, the government is conducting research projects to predict atmospheric visibility, analyze imagery, drone collision avoidance, and ship tracking. 

AI-based application centers are embedded within all three armed service branches – including the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering, Mhow (Army), the INS Valsura (Navy), and the Air Force Station Rajokri (Air Force) support several of these initiatives.

India’s long-standing public-sector defense institutions, including Bharat Electronics L and Bharat Electronics Limited andisation (DRDO), play an essential role in AI. 

These organizations have an excellent track record of working with military and civilian higher education institutions. 

Public sector research and development (R&D) organizations in India often cannot deliver projects on time and adequate to the specifications of their services (although they managed to complete 26 out of 61 projects by 2022).

International Partnerships

India is now incorporating AI in its significant future and ongoing defense alliances to boost its growing domestic industry. 

It also uses the absence of international trade regulations in AI products related to national security.

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Indian counterpart first discussed cooperation between the two countries on AI for defense in November 2022. 

US President Joe Biden and Modi announced bilateral AI cooperation through the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies in May 2022, which has since been launched at the national security-adviser level. 

The two nations began their first discussion regarding advanced domains. Next month, they decided to work more closely on high-performance computing.

The process of releasing India’s first national security strategy and possibly following the general elections in April and May 2024 will bring more information and clarity, as well as set expectations for the long run for the AI strategy for defense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *