Military Technology

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Cost growth in the development and fielding of technologically advanced weapon systems has become a major economic burden for many nations and is expected to be an enduring and prevalent problem. RAND research has provided cost analyses and recommendations to help policymakers and military leaders develop improved cost-estimating tools and formulate policies that mitigate cost growth in military technology acquisition practices.

  • Research Brief

    Assessing China's Defense Industrial Base

    What are the systemic strengths and vulnerabilities of China's defense industrial base? A comparative systems analysis looks at six key categories: economics; governance and regulations; raw materials; manufacturing; workforce, labor, and skills; and research, development, and innovation.

    Feb 9, 2022

  • Report

    Supporting the Royal Australian Navy's Strategy for Robotics and Autonomous Systems

    The Royal Australian Navy has embarked on an ambitious plan to modernise its maritime capabilities to support Australia's defence strategy. What should the Navy consider when developing its robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence strategy?

    Sep 14, 2021

Explore Military Technology

  • Human brain partially consists of circuit board, photo by Prostock-studio/AdobeStock

    Report

    Brain-Computer Interfaces: An Initial Assessment

    Brain-computer interfaces allow humans to communicate directly with machines. This technology may eventually be used to monitor a soldier's cognitive workload, control a drone swarm, or link with a prosthetic. But potential risks should be considered before the technology is widely deployed.

    Aug 27, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Improving Acquisition to Support the Space Enterprise Vision

    A new RAND report examines potential acquisition approaches to support the Space Enterprise Vision and identifies several promising ones that merit in-depth examination: modular open system architectures, agile acquisition, rapid prototyping.

    Jul 15, 2020

  • An Airman with the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron prepares for a close air support exercise during Southern Strike 2020 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, MS, February 3, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Izabella Workman/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare' by Christian Brose

    As the Pentagon and commercial technologists continue to explore the potential of commercial technologies for the military and work towards greater adoption, they may wish to focus not only on lowering bureaucratic barriers but also on managing expectations about what technologies will be most beneficial and how they will be used.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Silhouette of a soldier wearing equipment with A.I. on the horizon, photo by U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Considering Military Culture and Values When Adopting AI

    As the U.S. military contemplates increasing the number and diversity of AI and other autonomous systems, it should consider timely means of mitigating any potential negative side effects.

    Jun 22, 2020

  • An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft awaits maintenance at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, December 8, 2016, photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    The Risks of Autonomous Weapons Systems for Crisis Stability and Conflict Escalation in Future U.S.-Russia Confrontations

    While autonomous weapons systems are still in their early development stages, it is worth the time of policymakers to carefully consider whether their putative operational advantages are worth the potential risks of instability and escalation they may raise.

    Jun 3, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Air Dominance Through Machine Learning: A Preliminary Exploration of Artificial Intelligence–Assisted Mission Planning

    U.S. air superiority is being challenged by global competitors. In this report, the authors prototype a new artificial intelligence system to help develop and evaluate concepts of operations for the air domain.

    May 29, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Air Base Defense: Rethinking Army and Air Force Roles and Functions

    The gap between the growing cruise and ballistic missile threat to U.S. Air Force bases in Europe and the U.S. capacity and capability to counter the threat is worrisome. This report assesses alternative Air Force courses of action.

    May 29, 2020

  • A Skyborg conceptual design for a low-cost attritable unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), image by Air Force Research Laboratory

    Report

    Military Applications of AI Raise Ethical Concerns

    Artificial intelligence offers great promise for national defense. For example, a growing number of robotic vehicles and autonomous weapons can operate in areas too hazardous for soldiers. But what are the ethical implications of using AI in war or even to enhance security in peacetime?

    Apr 28, 2020

  • USS New Jersey fires its main battery during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s

    Report

    Naval Surface Fire Support: An Assessment of Requirements

    The authors developed recommendations to improve existing formal requirements and technological solutions regarding naval surface fire support, a way for the U.S. Navy to provide the equivalent of artillery support for forces operating ashore.

    Apr 16, 2020

  • Shot of a young businesswoman using a digital tablet during a late night at work, photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images

    Report

    Software Acquisition Workforce Initiative for the Department of Defense

    The U.S. Department of Defense seeks to advance the ability of its software acquisition workforce to rapidly and reliably deliver complex software-dependent capabilities. What competencies are needed for an effective software acquisition workforce?

    Mar 31, 2020

  • Cyber warfare specialists engage in weekend training at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Maryland, June 3, 2017, photo by J.M. Eddins Jr./U.S. Air Force

    Report

    The Defense Industrial Base Needs a Cyber Protection Program

    The unclassified networks of defense industrial base firms have become a target for adversaries seeking to steal sensitive data, trade secrets, and intellectual property. How can the U.S. Department of Defense better secure these networks?

    Mar 30, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Measuring Cybersecurity and Cyber Resiliency

    This report presents a framework for the development of metrics -- and a method for scoring them -- that indicates how well a U.S. Air Force mission or system is expected to perform in a cyber-contested environment.

    Mar 26, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Neurological Effects of Repeated Exposure to Military Occupational Levels of Blast: A Review of Scientific Literature

    There is increasing concern over the common, repetitive forms of blast to which military members are exposed during service, and how those exposures could affect the central nervous system. The authors of this report review the relevant literature.

    Mar 18, 2020

  • Aviation mechanic works on a Sea Hawk helicopter

    Report

    Naval Aviation Maintenance System: Analysis of Alternatives

    The U.S. Navy's aviation maintenance capability suffers from supportability issues because of its antiquated software architecture and codebase. Would migrating to a commercial off-the-shelf solution help modernize the Navy's afloat and ashore maintenance capabilities?

    Mar 9, 2020

  • Robot hand touching CGI lightbulb, photo by PhonlamaiPhoto/Getty Images

    Blog

    National Security Commission on AI Requests New Ideas; RAND Responds

    The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence put out an open call for submissions about emerging technology's role in the global order. RAND researchers stepped up to the challenge and submitted a wide range of ideas.

    Feb 21, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Assessment of Alternative Funding Models for Activities in RDECOM (Now CCDC) and ATEC

    Current funding models and impacts of alternative models are assessed by the authors to help the U.S. Army increase the transparency of reimbursable accounting practices and improve auditability at two Army commands.

    Feb 6, 2020

  • Artificial intelligence concept of eye with overlay of military helicopter and submarine, images by 4X-image/Getty Images; design by Jessica Arana/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Thinking Machines Will Change Future Warfare

    Until now, deterrence has been about humans trying to dissuade other humans from doing something. But what if the thinking is done by AI and autonomous systems? A wargame explored what happens to deterrence when decisions can be made at machine speeds and when states can put fewer human lives at risk.

    Jan 27, 2020

  • News Release

    News Release

    Pentagon's Ambitious Vision and Strategy for AI Not Yet Backed by Sufficient Visibility or Resources

    The U.S. Department of Defense has articulated an ambitious vision and strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center as the focal point, but the DoD has yet to provide the JAIC with the visibility, authorities and resource commitments needed to scale AI and its impact across the department.

    Dec 17, 2019

  • Computer simulation of military aircraft and missiles, photo by Devrimb/Getty Images

    Report

    How Well Is DoD Positioned for AI?

    The U.S. Department of Defense has articulated an ambitious vision and strategy for artificial intelligence. But if it wants to get the maximum benefit from AI-enhanced systems, then it will need to improve its posture along multiple dimensions.

    Dec 17, 2019

  • Circuit board with chip with image of missile, photo by guirong hao/Getty Images

    Commentary

    AI for Peace

    The United States should apply lessons from the 70-year history of governing nuclear technology by building a framework for governing AI military technology. An AI for Peace program should articulate the dangers of this new technology, principles to manage the dangers, and a structure to shape the incentives for other states.

    Dec 13, 2019