Military IoT isn’t a new concept. Throughout history, technology has always played a crucial role in military affairs. In fact, most battlefield victories have been attributed to the effective utilization of advanced military equipment. From cavalry to siege engines and beyond, having the best battle tools could be the difference between success and failure.
The invention of firearms radically altered the principles of combat by giving armies a very powerful tool. The Industrial Revolution brought even more formidable weapons in the form of tanks and aircraft to the battlefield. As technology advanced, weapons emerged with unprecedented range, size, and destructive potential. Today, weapons development has hit its stride, reaching previously unimaginable capacity.
However, technology was an exception. With the arrival of Industry 4.0, all the rules changed once again, creating a greater impact.
The military has widely embraced IoT technology, commonly called the Internet of Military Things (IoMT) or the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT). IoT is now integrated into nearly all sectors of modern defense organizations, spanning from standard equipment to complex operations. This integration has resulted in heightened efficiency.
Despite its comprehensive deployment, there are a few areas where IoT applications are making more of an impact: intelligence, logistics, and health.
IoMT: Revolutionizing Healthcare and Military Medicine
Every day, soldiers’ lives are on the line, and IoT military applications play a crucial role in helping to ensure their health and survival on the battlefield. Modern AI technologies are concentrated on aiding soldiers, using cutting-edge advancements to provide top-notch support.
Continuous Monitoring With Connected Device
Continuous monitoring of soldiers’ health is crucial during combat. Advanced systems, including dozens of sensors integrated into clothing, provide comprehensive operational/ contextual data. These systems not only reveal complete health information but also assess a fighter’s psychological state or help to locate or identify them on the battlefield. By constantly receiving data from wearable sensors, the command center can identify health issues preemptively, administer necessary medicine, and remove soldiers from the battlefield if required.
In the event of injury, medical data accurately determines the equipment required to save a soldier’s life. This improves military medicine efficiency and medical logistics availability—two factors that can effectively reduce battlefield losses.
Identifying enemy combatants can be challenging in asymmetric warfare. To address this, militaries use human movement and behavior models to identify fighters on the battlefield—often without direct contact.
Data collected from the fighter’s body is used to build these complex indicators, enhancing clarity and comprehension.
Leveraging Collected Data With VR and AR Equipment
After data is collected during combat operations, troops use the data in models to enhance training. Because they’re using real data sets and recordings from body cameras, they can create a virtual world for the next generation of soldiers to train in. This simulation accurately mimics the conditions of real combat exercises and allows for training with VR and AR equipment, improving accuracy, combat tactics, and more, all without the risk of physical harm. The result: soldiers are better prepared for the real conditions of combat because they’ve learned from their mistakes in a safe environment.
Virtual reality in aircraft and helicopter pilot training has also proven highly efficient, especially for eliminating unnecessary risks associated with training in combat-like conditions.
Revolutionizing Military Logistics through IoT
Logistics become the next essential mission after soldier health and safety. Modern warfare hinges on the swift and effective allocation of resources. Without the necessary machinery, equipment, ammunition, fuel, and food on hand, troops cannot succeed. Due to the ever-changing circumstances on the battlefield, it is impossible to plan for every possible event. As a result, the ability to react in real time becomes crucial. This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) shines. The military use IoT to gather intelligence and execute missions with growing frequency.
More than 50% of modern military equipment is electronic and relies on state and position sensors. Heavy equipment like tanks and self-propelled units have limited engine longevity.
Real-time GPS tracking, continuous engine check-up, and AI’s assessment of fuel consumption and usage make it possible for staff to tactically determine the right time to repair or replace equipment, even with limited resources.
Using AI systems onboard vehicles, such as naval vessels, transporting people and equipment becomes more fuel-efficient. Real combat data shows up to a 25% reduction in fuel consumption. This approach not only saves money but also enhances safety by avoiding having to deliver explosive fuel to the battlefield.
Logistics plays a crucial role in the timely and efficient transportation and distribution of goods, including vital instruments like weapons, tanks, and cartridges.
How RFID Tags Are Defending Goods Against Enemy Attacks
To prevent accumulation points and depots from becoming targets for the enemy, goods must not be kept in warehouses for extended periods. In this instance, the military uses RFID tags to efficiently monitor the movement and accumulation of goods.
Utilizing centralized AI to manage the flow of goods enables military personnel to forecast which products will be in demand or which will have an excess. This automated approach optimizes logistical control helping prevent losses resulting from robbery and sabotage.
Further, continuous monitoring of transport flows through GPS and RFID tracking of goods and vehicles allows for real-time scheduling, making manual control an inefficient option for delivery management.
Exploring the Unexplored: How IoT is Changing the Reconnaissance Game
Strategic military planning has always been founded on analyzing the battle region and enemy forces.
High-tech spy satellites in low Earth orbit use advanced technology to create a global map of the target area and estimate the enemy’s equipment.
Highly efficient sensors allow for accurate aerial photography in various wave ranges, aiding in the detection of enemy forces and nuclear threats. Camouflage techniques, such as equipment replicas and visual disguises, can be used to deceive satellites. However, the main challenges with satellite reconnaissance are its remote nature and permanent trajectory.
It’s impossible to rely on orbital operational data for battle dynamics since it only gives a limited battlefield view.
In the past, specialized reconnaissance aircraft were used on the battlefield to assess the region’s topology, determine the availability and position of equipment and enemy forces, and the relative coordinates of friendly fighters by circling over an area. Nowadays, the use of IoT in Army and other military applications is changing how these tasks are carried out by using various modifications of airborne drones with connected cameras for increased efficiency—and soldier safety.
These aircraft come in various weights and shapes and can be operated from 10 to 300 km from target zones. As a result, militaries get battlefield data without endangering the operator.
Drones use sensors, cameras, and software to build 3D terrain maps, detect enemy positions and send that intel to command centers for strategic decisions. Unmanned drones may also be used for automated control of battlefronts or borders without human intervention.
The drone sends a signal to the base upon detecting suspicious activity. The operator checks the information and can assume control for further investigation.
How IoT is Revolutionizing Military Communication
IoT military smart devices save soldiers’ lives but require uninterrupted communication across a complex network of devices, soldiers, warehouses, vehicles, equipment, operators, and the command center for consistent operation.
In other words, all the parts must work together to act as one mechanism. Breaking the link between any of the parts can decrease efficiency or even disable it entirely.
For many years, wired transmission was the most reliable method for sending data uninterrupted. However, for modern combat operations, this approach is not only outdated but also unfeasible. Encrypted radio transmission, similar to that used by common IoT, is today’s primary mode of data transmission.
The use of satellite communication has simplified the maintenance of military information infrastructure. However, enemies can use special jamming stations that create radio interference to suppress satellite and radio communication, but as we’ve seen in Ukraine, these jammers are often less effective because of their limited range.
IoT: The Future Of Military Operations
Military IoT devices are getting smarter, and new technologies are constantly being developed. Though it’s unclear how much the military spends on some of these projects due to their classified nature, experts believe that military IoT makes up between 7% to 11% of the total IoT market. This includes body sensors, vehicle electronics, targeting systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and so much more.
Modern warfare uses surveillance and strike drones such as ground, waterfowl, and aircraft drones. Percussion drones are exceptionally potent tools equipped with lightweight weapons capable of damaging enemies while conducting reconnaissance. Their unique effectiveness stems from their ability to fulfill dual roles with remarkable efficiency.
The drone can also function as an explosive device, making it a versatile guided weapon. Furthermore, the drone operator can control the device remotely from a safe, protected area without being physically close to the battlefront.
IoT Military Applications—Closing Thoughts
The utilization of IoT in military operations has revolutionized the way battles are fought, and data is communicated. From optimized logistical control to advanced reconnaissance techniques, IoT-enabled devices have greatly enhanced efficiency and safety on the battlefield. Furthermore, the integration of IoT in military systems is an ever-evolving field, with new technologies constantly being developed.
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