Four technology forecast reports from the Fraunhofer Institute and two internet based search reports from Recorded Future have been reviewed by staff at the Department of Military- Technology at the Swedish National Defence College (Note that there probably are other technology areas, equally interesting, but not included in this study). The task given by FMV was to assess the military utility of the chosen technologies in a time frame from 2025 to 2030, from a SwAF viewpoint.
We assess the military utility of a certain technology, as its contribution to the operational capabilities of the SwAF, within identified relevant scenarios.
The technologies were grouped in three classes; technologies with potentially significant, uncertain or negligible military utility.
The following technologies were assessed to have a potential for significant military utility;
- Alternative fuels
- High altitude platforms
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- Cyber Defence
- The forecasting and analysis technology described in the report "Future of Cyber Threats" if the tool is combined with advanced artificial intelligence algorithms
The following technology was assessed to have uncertain military utility;
- The forecasting and analysis technology described in the report "Future of Cyber Threats" in its present form
The following technology was assessed to have negligible military utility;
The method used was first to make a summary of each forecast report. The technology was then put into one or more scenarios that are assessed to be the best in order to show possible military utility as well as possibilities and drawbacks of the technologies. Based on a SWOT-analysis, the contribution to SwAF capabilities and the cost in terms of acquisition, C2 footprint, logistic footprint, doctrine/TTP, training, facilities and R&D were assessed. Conclusions regarding the military utility of the technology were drawn.
Our evaluation of the method used shows that there is a risk that the assessment is biased by the participating experts’ presumptions and experiences from their own field of research. The scenarios that were chosen do not cover all aspects of the technology and their possible contribution to operational capabilities. It should be stressed that we have assessed the six technologies’ potential military utility within the presented scenarios, not the technology itself.
The chosen definition of military utility clearly affects the result of the study. The definition (the military utility of a certain technology is its contribution to the operational capabilities of the SwAF, within identified relevant scenarios) has been slightly modified from the one used in the Technology Forecast 2012. It is believed to be good enough for this report, but could be further elaborated in the future.
The greatest value of the method used is its simplicity, cost effectiveness and the tradeoff that it promotes learning within the working group. The composition of the working group and the methodology used is believed to provide for a broad and balanced coverage of the technologies under study. This report provides executive summaries of the Fraunhofer and Recorded Future reports and helps the SwAF Headquarter to evaluate the military utility of emerging technologies within identified relevant scenarios.
Given the limited quantitative base (only 2 reports) for assessing the potential value of using the tool Temporal Analytics™ used by Recorded Future, our conclusion is nevertheless that the overall value of using the tool for technology forecasting is rather poor. Our assessment is that Recorded Future at present can’t be used as an alternative to the Fraunhofer Institute. Overall, the quality of the Fraunhofer reports is considered to be balanced and of a high level of critical analysis regarding technology development. These reports are in line with our task to evaluate the military utility of the emerging technologies. In the case of Recorded Future’s technology forecast, the sources that are relevant for making military predictions are considered to be ill-suited for aggregation in the form the tool in focus, Temporal Analytics™, provides. The tool requires further development to fit military purposes. Further use of Recorded Future in the technology forecast process is therefore not recommended, at least not until the tool has been combined with advanced artificial intelligence algorithms.
We propose that the Department of Military Technology at SNDC could be involved in the early phase of the Technology Forecast process giving support to FMV in choosing which technology areas that should be selected to be studied by the Fraunhofer Institute within the framework of the Technology Forecast project (Teknisk Prognos).
Stockholm: Försvarshögskolan (FHS), 2013. , 38 p.