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Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has launched a Cognitive Electronic Warfare (CEW) program at its Center for Artificial Intelligence and Computing (CENTAIC), according to media reports. Modern connected weapon systems generate vast amounts of data requiring artificial intelligence and machine learning software for speedy analysis and rapid decision-making on the battlefield.
|AI/ML in Military
Modern electronic warfare requires the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to analyze vast amounts of data coming from a large number of sensors mounted on various military platforms deployed on the ground, in the air and on the seas. EW systems can collect a considerable amount of data about an enemy’s frequency use, radar deployment, and many other factors. Here is how British defense contractor BAE Systems defines it:
"Cognitive Electronic Warfare (CEW) is the use of cognitive systems – commonly known as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning – to enhance development and operation of Electronic Warfare (EW) technologies for the defense community. Cognitive systems can sense, learn, reason, and interact naturally with people and environments, accelerating development and implementation of next generation EW threat detection, suppression, and neutralization technologies".
Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney says Pakistan Air Force may have already begun using CEW systems. In a recent video posted on YouTube, Sawhney believes PAF used CEW in Pakistan's successful Operation Swift Report launched in response to India's bombing of Balakot in 2019.
Sawhney speculates that, after the success of PAF's Operation Swift Retort, Pakistani military has recognized the importance of using its air force as the lead branch for the deployment of AI/ML and CEW. The establishment of Center for Artificial Intelligence and Computing (CENTAIC) at PAF's Air University is a manifestation of Pakistani military's commitment to this strategy.
Sawhney says that PAF's commitment to AI/ML and CEW is also a step toward achieving greater interoperability with the PLAAF, the Chinese air force. Pakistan and Chinese air forces have been conducting joint air exercises since 2011.
PLAAF's General Hong is currently in Pakistan for Shaheen IX joint air exercises with PAF. He has been quoted in Pakistani media as saying: “The joint exercise will improve the actual level of combat training and strengthen practical cooperation between the two air forces”. Welcoming the Chinese contingent, PAF Air Vice Marshal Sulehri has said, “The joint exercise will provide an opportunity to further enhance interoperability of both the air forces, fortifying brotherly relations between the two countries”. Shaheen IX started a week after Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met with President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Pakistan.
‘Digital Silk Road’ project is one of 12 sub-themes agreed to at the Belt Road Forum 2019 (BRF19) in Beijing. This state-of-the-art information superhighway involves laying fiber optic cables in Pakistan which will connect with China in the north and link with Africa and the Arab World via undersea cable to be laid from Gwadar Deep Sea Port built as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The global project will include 5G wireless networks deployment in BRI (Belt Road Initiative) member nations, including Pakistan.
Watch Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney describe Pakistan's defense AI program:
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