Imagine a war-like scenario where the skies are flooded with an array of stealthy modern fighters and drones performing aerial maneuvers while launching missiles at enemy fighters and amidst that smoke, dust, and absolute chaos, you see an army of soldiers charging at enemy camps — soldiers unafraid of being attacked— soldiers who don’t eat, drink, sleep, or even bleed— Welcome to Robot Warfare.
In what will be considered straight out of a sci-fi flick, the future advanced warfare is likely just a decade or two away from us, with the inception of unmanned drones and fighters, countries are already working towards making armed robots a reality soon in light of shortages of human soldiers.
According to reports, the United Kingdom is one such nation that has its eyes set on possessing a robot army for potential conflicts of the future.
Having already invested a fair share of resources and time for the development of the next-generation advanced fighter jet, which is commonly known by the name of the Tempest Fighter Jet, Britain is already looking to invest in robot warfare.
According to Chief of the Defense Staff of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter, around one-quarter of the United Kingdom’s army could be robots in the next 10 years or in the 2030s. Carter while speaking to Sky News in an interview said,
“I mean I suspect we can have an army of 120,000, of which 30,000 might be robots, who knows, but the answer is we need to open our minds to perhaps not determining what we should be doing but rather the effect that we can achieve is really what we should be looking for.”
While calling on the government to go ahead with previously promised five-year integrated defense review, Carter stated that the British Armed Forces do need “to think about how we measure effects in a different way”.
Robot warfare is set to be a central agenda in terms of defense investment as part of the planned integrated five-year defense review, however, there is an air of uncertainty after the cross-government spending review to which it had been linked was postponed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month.
However, while Carter has lobbied in the public for a long-term financial deal, he also stated that negotiations to salvage the multi-year defense funding settlement, have been “going on in a very constructive way” with Downing Street and the Treasury.
“Clearly, from our perspective, we are going to argue for something like that (a multi-year budget) because we need long-term investment because long-term investment gives us the opportunity to have confidence in modernization,” said Carter.
According to Brad Bergan, writing for Interesting Engineering, the British Army leaning towards robot warfare will be considered a positive especially in light of it facing difficulties in recruiting soldiers.
“If the U.K. army shifted toward robots, we shouldn’t be surprised. Its army has experienced difficulties meeting key recruitment goals — with only 73,870 trained soldiers falling below the expected 82,050. Robots might close the gap in recruits and perhaps expand the nation’s military while also reducing reliance on human soldiers.”
A host of nations led by the United States have been reported to have increased their military investment in robotic technology, with robots likely to become a key part of any country’s military arsenal of the future.
Alan S Brown, writing for The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, says several countries including the US, Israel, and South Korea deploy soldiers to gather intelligence, take part in strike missions, and even patrol borders.
“The U.S. fields more than 5,300 unmanned aerial vehicles and more than 12,000 ground robots to reduce risk to soldiers, gather intelligence and strike stealthily at remote enemies,”
Israel and South Korea use armed robots to patrol their borders. Operators in cubicles in the U.S. routinely fly drone aircraft via remote control, monitoring, and attacking potential targets,” said Brown.