Civilian investment is the new driver in Research and Development


Previously driven by military investment, Research and Development (R&D) in the defence industry is now driven by civilian investment, with the adoption of machine learning, cloud computing, quantum computing and blockchain inviting new growth prospects for military applications.

This is according to a recent Frost & Sullivan analysis titled Impact of Future Technologies on the Global Defence Market, 2019–2029, which assesses which future technologies will impact the defence industry over the next ten years.

A combination of multi-disciplinary technologies, such as information technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and meta-materials are set to have a wide variety of civilian and military applications.

“Where previously technologies would mature at glacial speeds due to their development for bespoke applications, the reverse is happening in the commercial sector. The culture of rapid prototyping, testing and iterations combined with private investment has allowed breakneck developments in certain technologies in the industry and academia with which the defence sector can no longer keep pace,” said Ryan Pinto, Industry Analyst, Defence at Frost and Sullivan. “These non-military commercial technologies will have a profound impact on the defence industry over the next two decades, allowing for technologies that have previously stagnated to advance.”

While future technological advancements will be increasingly interlinked, the advancements in one technology will spur the development of adjacent and complementary technologies.

“Anticipating the future of the armed forces requires the tracking of all these interlinked technologies, as a breakthrough in any technology can have a positive or negative impact on a related technology,” said Pinto. “As commercially developed technologies are not dependent on defence funding, they usually cross over into different sectors. These companies may not even be aware of the implications that their technology would have on the defence sector; hence, it is not the technology that determines technological superiority on the battlefield, but rather the doctrine that deploys these technologies that exploits them to their maximum potential.”