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Explained: Role of 5G Technology In Military

India along with the whole world is fast moving towards the 5G technology. 5G technology will have huge utility in the commercial as well as military sector. In this article, we will discuss the role of 5G technology in the military in the upcoming period.

Before understanding role of 5G in military, first let’s understand what is the 5G technology?

What Is 5G Technology?

5G is actually a fifth-generation standard for broadband mobile networks. It is the successor of the 4G technology that we are currently using in our mobile phones.

5G comes with greater bandwidth. It has low latency i.e. higher data transfer speed of upto 10 Gigabits per second (Gbit/sec). In simple language, it is 20 to 100 times faster than the current 4G networks. 5G will enable new applications like the Internet Of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine areas.

After understanding the potential of 5G compared to 4G networks, let’s understand possible use of this 5G technology in the military.

Role Of 5G Technology In Military-

Before diving into 5G let’s have a brief look into capabilities of 4G network in military application.

Basically the networks like 4G and 5G are used for communication in militaries. They can transmit voice, data, videos and position location. Many advanced weapons like UAVs, missiles, swarm drones, command and control centres today use 4G technologies.

Some prominent examples of user of 4G technology are as follows. The US killed Iranian commander using a Predator drone. Azerbaijan effectively used armed drones against Armenian armoured formations.

Congressional research service of the United States has published a report titled ‘National security implications of Fifth-generation (5G) mobile technologies’. This report and some other articles shed some light on the possible use of 5G in military applications.

Let’s have a look at them one by one.

1. 5G in Hypersonic Weapons

Hypersonic missiles travel at a very fast speed of more than Mach 5. They need to be guided on variable trajectories, change their direction in order to dodge interceptor missiles. For this enormous amounts of data needs to be transferred in fractions of second. 5G can better manage such transfer of data.

2. 5G in Hypersonic Missile Defence

If a Hypersonic weapon is approaching towards a city, ship, or a military base, it has time of less than one minute to react to it. Detecting the projectile, tracking it and launching air defence measures also require transfer of enormous data within seconds.

3. 5G in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)

ISR systems will be improved enormously with 5G. For example, current drones cannot stream 4K videos. With 5G, drones will be able to live stream real time 4K videos, do better object recognition and faster data transmission.

5G technology in military
5G technology in military

4. 5G in Drones And Artificial Intelligence

With 5G, drones can choose targets more accurately and intelligently. They can use artificial intelligence technologies like facial recognition to select targets. Also, swarm drones can be more effectively managed by 5G networks and Artificial intelligence.

5. 5G In Smart Military Base

Faster data transfer rates and low latency of 5G can enable improved Command and Control (C2) systems. Logistics can be improved with technologies like Smart Warehousing.

6. 5G In Battle Networks

Modern militaries rely on data connected war fighters. It includes interconnected soldiers, vehicles, command post, ships, satellites, planes, etc. They require transmission of voice, data, imagery, and signals. High speed capacity of 5G technology can make such real time communication possible.

7. 5G In Battlefield Wearables

5G can enable MMTC technology i.e. massive machine type communication. In this system, up to 1 million devices can operate seamlessly in an area of 1 square kilometer. Thus every soldier can carry numerous smart devices with him on the battlefield. Thus they can have better situational awareness, better communication, and enhanced capabilities. The upcoming exoskeleton program will also be having this element of 5G technology.

8. 5G in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR & VR)

Pilots are already using these technologies. AR and VR devices with 5G technology will be useful in simulation, training and mission rehearsal for soldiers. They can be capacity booster in battlefield as well for target acquisition and tracking, identifying friend and foe, etc.

5G technology in military
Augmented Reality

India’s Efforts For 5G Technology In Military

India is also working towards the integration of 5G technology in military applications. Recently Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said, “Armed forces also will need to migrate to 5G network considering the use of unmanned vehicles and AI in future”.

However 5G has some of its drawbacks as well along with huge advantages.

Drawbacks or Hurdles In Using 5G Technology In Military

  1. As per some experts, the 5G network has less ability to penetrate walls, rains as well as foliage very well.
  2. Short-range of 5G network towers/ radiators- This requires the setting up of a large number of towers to provide uninterrupted connectivity. Both stationary, as well as mobile towers, are required. It is challenging to deploy such networks in remote areas where Indian armed forces operate. These include high altitudes, oceans, jungles, mountains, etc.
  3. Data security- 5G networks are inherently a little difficult to hack due to their short ranges. But still, it’s susceptible to Electronic Warfare jamming and electronic threats from nearby transmitters.

Conclusion

5G technology will have profound impact on military applications. Its role is not limited just to communication but it will make soldiers and weapons much more lethal. 5G technology is going to bring significant progress in military technology.

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Prasad Gore

A defence enthusiast. Writing on Defence, Aviation and International Relations. M.A., NET (Defence and strategic studies).

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