Artificial intelligence (AI), unmanned vehicles, laser weapons are top technology trends to watch in 2021

Jan. 6, 2021
A surge in armed drone exports from Turkey, expansions in Chinese and Israeli exports. and U.S. exports of the MQ-9 Reaper also stoke the market.

WASHINGTON – Here are some thoughts about the technology trends we might expect in aerospace and defense in 2021. Artificial intelligence (AI) is reaching a tipping point and we are going to see a profusion of AI-enabled weapon systems and unmanned vehicles, on air, sea, land, underwater, and in space. Forbes reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

6 Jan. 2021 -- Recent tests with an AI-enabled MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and AI commanding a U-2 manned spy plane are the visible tip of the iceberg. These will have profound implications for how wars are fought -- not just the fast-moving tactical battlespace but in larger fields like warfighting strategy. Absolutely nobody has any real idea how this is going to pan out, but things might start to happen very fast.

A surge in armed drone exports from Turkey on the back of the Azeris success, with parallel expansions in Chinese and Israeli exports. The U.S. -- newly unfettered by international rules and keen to find exports for the MQ-9 Reaper -- also stokes the market. Expect new drones, new weapons, and new customers and quite possibly new conflicts by those emboldened by their purchases.

After 60 years, laser weapons finally make their first kill in a real conflict in 2021. After years of work, they are finally that good. Press releases and video are put out, the media go crazy, while analysts trying to point out that the weapon did not make any difference are drowned out in the clamor. Microwave weapons, which may be far more effective in the long run, continue to go almost unnoticed among a welter of Star Wars clips juxtaposed with military hardware.

Related: Top enabling technologies for the warfighter in the 2020s

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Related: Laser weapons show their stuff in real-world conditions

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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