The potential of AI in the battlefield
Always further, always higher, always stronger and above all, always more accurate. The needs of our armed forces, and the reality of the theatres in which they operate, require continuous improvement in the capabilities of our products. To defend our soldiers and enable them to fulfil their mission, we must provide them with weaponry that meets the most demanding criteria, both in terms of effectiveness and safety.
For more than ten years, we have been studying Artificial Intelligence and its potential applications. Missile systems, given the nature and the criticality of their role during operations, have always been packed with cutting-edge technology. The perspectives AI open to us now magnify this. Mission preparation, target identification in a wide variety of usage conditions, optimised and adaptive flight trajectories in response to threats, the interaction between multiple effectors whether they are autonomous or not, and assigning tasks between these multiple effectors. The only limits are those we set for ourselves – and these are extremely clear.
Our products will make use of trusted AI that must be explainable, secure, and robust against cyberattack risks. They must also be in line with the legal and ethical principles in force. For MBDA, implementing a solitary and autonomous AI whose functioning would exclude the operator is inconceivable. Human beings must be at the heart of the decision-making process, and the only ones authorised to make critical decisions.
Where the system can provide the most suitable response in record time for a situation, considering countless factors, it must also be able to provide the operator with an explanation: why is this the most appropriate response? In their interactions with the machine, the soldier must be able to immediately understand the reasoning that has been applied to assess the real relevance of this proposal. The development of automaticity must help increase the reliability of systems while help with decision-making aims to improve operational performance. Ultimately, AI will be an accelerator. Not a decision-maker.
Beyond the potential of AI in the battlefield and in managing effects, it is at the heart of our industrial sites where our teams are working on deploying the development of new industrial approaches; the use of production techniques that help to develop designs that until now had been unimaginable; not mentioning assistance with diagnostics, predictive maintenance etc. MBDA is evolving and transforming to incorporate into its core activities systems which, going forward, will improve the quality of our work, our products, and ultimately better meet the needs of our armed forces.
Far from the spotlights that light up the announcements of the civil sector, our ecosystem is subject to – and sets – even stricter principles and procedures. In a field where an error is not an option, it is crucial to both our users and ourselves, that we have guarantees whose robustness will enable with complete confidence, the introduction of AI into the heart of our systems.
Today, the requirement that we apply in all circumstances, both to our products and ourselves, makes MBDA a discreet but pioneering actor in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
– Eric Béranger –