This post was published in Daily Express. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
LONDON, (BM) – The British general and former head of the Interspecific Command of the United Kingdom, Richard Barrons, said that the British armed forces are still “fighting yesterday” and are unable to defend the country or adequately meet the challenges of the 21st century, the British tabloid The Daily Express reports.
According to the general, the British troops should be radically reformed with the latest technology – including artificial intelligence and robotics.
According to DE, Mr. Barrons, speaking at a conference on the ethical aspects of the use of robotic lethal weapons, noted that Russia and China had already developed and deployed long-range missile systems, which in fact led to the complete obsolescence of even the most expensive British platforms.
Among such complexes, he singled out the Chinese DF-21D, the current version of which is capable of destroying aircraft carriers at a distance of 1600 km, and the next generation – at a distance of 3000 km. “The equation is as follows: on the one hand – an aircraft carrier for 100 thousand tons with 6 thousand people on board, and on the other – missiles that are launched from a distance of several thousand kilometers in volleys of 20 pieces,” Barrons explained.
In his opinion, the Russian S-400 also plays a similar role, the deployment of which means that “NATO air forces can no longer penetrate into the airspace of Russia.” At the same time, as Barrons noted, Iskander missile systems deployed in Kaliningrad can strike with impunity in Berlin, and X-101 cruise missiles equipped with 400-pound warheads can fly from Russia to London in just 19 minutes, hitting targets with an accuracy of 2 meters.
As Barrons emphasized in his speech, the British government still thinks in terms of the end of the 20th century – the period when the United Kingdom invaded the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. “But in 2010, the world began to change. Russia has again proved itself to be a confident and aggressive opponent both militarily and in cyberspace. Britain lagged behind competing states and could not keep up with the development of Russian and Chinese military technologies,” the general said.
The British defense program has shrunk so much that the country can no longer afford to “make its independent contribution to the efforts of NATO or any other coalition”, and now the British armed forces are not enough money even to keep what they have left – moreover, that London decided to drop many of the funds needed to conduct a full-blown “state-level war,” Barrons warned.
The likelihood of such a conflict, however, only increases due to the influence of many factors, including the rise of China, overpopulation, climate change, as well as the “fourth industrial revolution” that will occur after the massive introduction of AI, retells the words of the general of The Daily Express.
“We don’t know how everything will turn out, and we don’t have a clue whether there will even exist a Western concept of an international order based on norms,” he warned. “We will live in an environment where what will be an economic necessity for one country will become a disaster for another.”
According to Barrons, just the main driving factor in the modernization and transformation of the defense forces of Great Britain will be just artificial intelligence. “The defense budgets of most European countries kill salaries and pensions in the first place. But instead of rushing about with the idea of a small army of 82 thousand people, we need to talk about what a hybrid army could become. The most promising moment for the UK is that it is possible to make the armed forces efficient and at the same time affordable in terms of even the worst recession in the last 300 years, while influencing the allies and maintaining a positive trade balance,” he explained.
As the DE material emphasizes, the British Ministry of Defense is well aware of the need to “transform” the army: for example, the head of the British General Staff, General Nick Carter, noted in December last year that the modernization of the armed forces will require the widespread introduction of machine learning, quantum computers, robotics and artificial intelligence .
According to the publication, AI is already used in the program of the British Navy NavyX, which develops sapper robots, the Manta autonomous reconnaissance submarine, as well as robotic observation boats.
In turn, the country’s air forces are promoting their own innovative projects: for example, the Lanka project involves the creation of a fully autonomous UAV for escort and defense of fighters, while the project for the development of false targets for Arma radar-guided missiles was already successfully completed and even went for export.
Finally, last year the government allocated an additional 66 million pounds to the United Kingdom Ground Forces Initiative Autonomous Warrior, so it will have to bear fruit this year; among them are mini-drones and other radio-controlled reconnaissance vehicles, as well as the so-called “Theseus Project” – autonomous supply vehicles that will deliver ammunition and equipment to the troops at the forefront.
Most of the innovative projects of the British armed forces are auxiliary or defense means, since Great Britain and other democracies have to overcome a whole “ethical minefield” before lethal autonomous weapons are introduced, the material DE emphasizes.
The UK defense ministry will have to start discussing ethical boundaries next month, however, the current innovation concepts still have a tough rule: the decision to open fire must ultimately be made by a person, not a machine, the tabloid writes.
Meanwhile, Mr. Barrons warns that choosing this approach, the British authorities turn a blind eye to the fact that China, Russia and Iran will not be guided by such restrictions, writes DE.
“In no case do I advocate robotic weapons of mass destruction – we won’t have any wars in the style of the movie Terminator,” the publication quotes the general. – It’s about a combination of platforms, some of which are remotely controlled by people, and some are autonomous. If this becomes possible – and for now it is impossible – the ground forces will be able to replace four Challenger 2 tanks with a crew with one tank with a crew and three autonomous ones in a tank platoon. AI and robotics will revolutionize the armed forces and change their appearance, both in terms of intelligence, logistics and operational management, and in terms of mortality, although difficult discussions await us about it. But no matter what thoughts we have about this, rest assured that Russia and China will not have the same remorse. ”
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