Changing characteristics of warfare and the future of Military R&D
Wars have been a part of humanity since prehistoric times, and are expected to remain an important component of future human societies. Since the beginning of the history wars have evolved in parallel with the changes in Society, Technology, Economy, Environment, Politics and Values (STEEPV). The changing circumstances unavoidably affect the characteristics of warfare through its motivations, shape and size. Armies have adapted themselves to these changing characteristics of warfare through Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMAs) by introducing new military concepts and technologies. Based on the overview of the evolution of military technologies and concepts as a response to changing conditions, the aim of the present study is to anticipate what and how future technologies and concepts will shape warfare and drive impending RMAs. To answer this question, first the RMA literature is reviewed within a broader historical context to understand the extent to which military concepts and technologies affected the RMAs. Then, a time-based technological trend analysis is conducted through the analysis of military patents to understand the impact of technological developments on military concepts. Following the historical analyses, two scenarios are developed for the future of military R&D based on ‘concept-driven’ and ‘technology-driven’ factors. The article is concluded with a discussion about the implications of future scenarios for military R&D, and likely RMAs through the changes of concepts and technologies, and possible consequences such as transformations in organizational structures of armies, new skill and capacity requirements, military education systems, and decision-making processes.