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Changing world blazes new trail for military technology.


* A striking array of new challenges is reshaping the course of defense technology. The United States is entering what can be described as the "end of the post-Cold War era," characterized by fiscal austerity and the rise of "non-state" actors as enemies of nation states. The national security community and defense industry are expected to innovate. They will need to develop and acquire a new generation of weapons and equipment that can be adapted to fight major wars, quell insurgencies and respond to natural disasters. Unlike the Cold War, the innovation in this new era will be dominated by commercial technologies, as civilian investments in research and development continue to dwarf government expenditures.

In this special report, National Defense identifies five key trends that will influence the industry's approach to developing next-generation weapons and related systems.

One is the clash between citizens' desire for security and also for privacy. As countries seek to combat terrorist groups, they will look to acquire technologies that, critics argue, infringe on individual rights to privacy. Pressure from both arenas will shape the future course of military research and development.

Another game changer in the defense technology world is Google, which is giving government agencies low-cost access to tech tools that in years past would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Technologies like Google Glass and Google Earth continue to be adapted into military programs, and engineers believe the potential is unlimited.

The ubiquity of mobile devices has had considerable impact on military investments in encryption and software. The mobile phenomenon is not about to slow down any time soon. More functions increasingly will shift from desktop computers to tablets and phones, and it will be up to industry to find ways to adapt commercial systems so they can meet stringent military requirements.

Another determining force in the defense sector will come from civilian investments in robotics technology While the military leads in the development of aerial drones, it has lagged in other areas such as ground vehicles. New products being launched on the commercial side could spark innovation in military robots, experts predict.

The final item in this report is the rise of special operations forces. Special operations troops have been the go-to resource in the U.S. war against terrorist groups, and other countries are following suit. Countries will invest more resources in their special operations units and will call on their suppliers to provide innovative equipment that meets unconventional warfare needs.

Following is our analysis.
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Comment:Changing world blazes new trail for military technology.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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