The Russians and Chinese have been giving us glimpses into their future weapon’s systems and their utilization. In considering these weapons utilization one can begin to see the ways that these two potential opponents envision fighting in future conflicts. One should also note that present conflicts are being used as testing grounds for these futuristic weapon systems.
The Russians have used Syria as a proving ground for their cyber and robotic capabilities. According to multiple Russian language blogs the Syrian Arab Army recently deployed ten Russian combat robots in a battle leading to about 70 rebel fighters and no Syrian casualties. Allegedly these robots were controlled from a Russian command post. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f5iWM5rLTY)
The Russians have demonstrated these robots and touted them in press videos as those noted above. Why? Most likely because the Russians are actually behind the American and Chinese in the development of robotic devices.
What is the motivation for robotic devices? There are many. In most cases robotic/remote controlled combat systems are cheaper to build and deploy since they are smaller and do not include the crew survival / protection measures and the associated weight and size that accompany crews. Such machines of war require fewer human warriors on the battlefield and thus reduce the entire human support costs.
Electronic warfare has been used on the battlefield since World War II. The commander of US forces in Syria recently reported that US AC130 gun ships were being jammed during support operations for the Syrian “rebels.” The electronic jamming signals affecting AC-130 gunships over Syria may have crews checking and cross-checking their data, including target information, before they lock on with their cannons, according to air commanders in Syria.
“Whether that’s being man-made, or maybe it’s a mistake inside the airplane, it’s hard to say sometimes, but the process is, as you see those things pop up, the safety for the people on the ground is the primary concern,” said Col. Tom Palenske, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing…He continued: ““When you’re going to put lethal fires down on either enemy position or to protect friendlies, you’re concerned about the innocents around both our guys in uniform and civilians,” he said. “And when there’s some glitch being put out there by trons that threatens the accuracy of that, then the [AC-130 crews] have got to make sure they do no harm.”…Palenske did not say what kind of electronic warfare equipment adversaries are using, nor who the adversaries are, even though Islamic State fighters, Iranian-backed militia and Russian troops are in country.
Cyber warfare is coming and this is one of the first battlefield indications—the ability to take over a friendly fire control system. Hacking has become common place across military and civil society.
What is not being reported is the ability to work through or counter such spoofing and other types of cyber activities. There is also no public discussion of friendly use of similar capabilities.
Finally, The Chinese are reported to be using weapons grade lasers to engage US planes over Djibouti where there is a Chinese military installation. Currently the lasers are reported to be eye damaging. However the ability to target and engage a military aircraft with a laser portends a capability to do more than create eye damage with lasers. Future air defense weapons will most probably include radar directed lasers to destroy electronics and avionics in military aircraft. Presently, the lasers are likely denying US access to selected regions
The Chinese are also reported to have deployed air defense, electronic warfare and surface to surface missiles on three of their man made islands in the area claimed by the Philippines. These weapons threaten a significant amount of civilian naval traffic which could disrupt the economies of many of the nations in the area.
These new weapon deployments highlight the changing nature of warfare where new weapons can be used to achieve regional superiority for the accomplishment of a mission. This is the essence of the emerging US doctrine of cross domain operations.. (https://brucebgclarke.com/2017/07/12/multi-domain-warfare/)