Nr 6  2012


On Military Technology

A certain famous web browser produces thousands of hits for the term “military technology”. The interpretations of the term vary wildly among the selected sites, but often refer to technologies with strictly military applications, such as materiel tailored to produce low radar cross-section signatures (also known as “stealth”) or rapidly frequency-hopping communications systems, with a low probability of intercept.

Most technologies can’t tell whether the application is military or civil, which has been one contributing factor to the recent hype of “dual use technologies”. There is much talk in the EU community in Brussels about dual use, one reason being that a strictly military program cannot apply for EU funding from the Horizon 2020 Research Program (formerly known as Framework Program), whereas a dual use program can.

Far down the supply chain, the application may be irrelevant to the individual component or a subsystem, but there is ample data from the U.S. that shows the two paths diverging at higher systems levels. The military requirements on robustness, supportability, and maintainability are simply not met by many commercially available technologies or systems.

A somewhat different meaning of the term “military technology” has been chosen by the Swedish National Defense College (SNDC), where it is defined as the interaction between the military officer and technology, what requirements the officer has on technologies used, and what opportunities technology provides to the officer. This definition implies that military technology is preferably studied jointly with more traditional military sciences, not using the model commonly used in many other nations with civil academic studies in college, followed by military-specific studies at a military establishment. The importance of jointly studying these topics, and not in sequence and separately, may in the future be manifested at the SNDC by merging them into the overarching designation “Military sciences”.