By Chen Hanghui
Under major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, the instability and uncertainty faced by the international security environment have risen significantly. Against this backdrop, major powers such as Russia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, and India have accelerated their military transformation while focusing on key areas. 2022 may become a year in which the military game between major powers becomes more intense.
Strategic weapons as the priority
The military game among major powers is first and foremost a fight for strategic dominance, and the importance of nuclear weapons in shaping the strategic situation is self-evident. Nuclear arms race will remain the focus of military competition between Russia and the US and other major powers in 2022, and hypersonic weapons will become the focus of military technological competition among major powers.
Today's nuclear arms race among major powers will focus more on breakthroughs in weapon quality. The US will invest USD 27.8 billion in nuclear weapons projects in 2022. It plans to purchase Columbia-class strategic nuclear-powered submarines, and upgrade nuclear command and control, communication and early warning systems. Russia will commission one Borei-A-class nuclear-powered submarine , two Tu-160M strategic bombers and 21 sets of new ballistic missile systems. And the modernization level of its strategic nuclear arsenal is expected to exceed 90 percent. The UK and France will also strengthen their nuclear armament construction this year. Through measures such as developing new strategic nuclear-powered submarines, expanding the number of nuclear warheads, or testing new ballistic missiles, they strive to further strengthen their nuclear forces.
As a leader in hypersonic weapon technology, Russia will commission the Zircon sea-based hypersonic cruise missiles this year and continue to develop new hypersonic missiles. The US will invest USD 3.8 billion this year in the development of hypersonic weapons to catch up with Russia. France, the UK, and Japan are also advancing the research and development of hypersonic weapons.
Upgrade of conventional equipment accelerated
The foothold of the military game between major powers is to win modern wars and maintaining the leading edge of conventional weapons and equipment is an important prerequisite for winning. Major powers such as Russia and the US will accelerate the upgrading of main battle equipment in 2022.
The US will focus on the upgrading of weapons and equipment in the Navy and Air Force. The US Navy will speed up the upgrade and commissioning of weapons and equipment such as Ford-class aircraft carriers, Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines, and F-15EX fighters as planned, and build a high-end sea and air equipment system featuring new aircraft carrier platforms and fifth-generation fighter jets. Russian military equipment upgrades are in full bloom as its army is expected to commission more T-14 tanks, the navy will have 16 large warships, the aerospace force and the navy will receive more than 200 new or improved aircraft. The UK will speed up the commissioning of a new generation of Boxer armored vehicle s. India will continue to promote the actual combat deployment of its first domestic aircraft carrier. And Japan will continue to purchase F-35B fighter jets and upgrade the quasi-aircraft carrier Izumo.
In the field of the electromagnetic spectrum, the US military's focus this year is to promote the Air Force's Project Kaiju electronic warfare project and the Navy's next generation jammer low band (NGJ-LB) program , and further optimize the electronic warfare process through exercises. Russia will receive Pole-21 , Krasukha and other new electronic warfare systems to improve the automation level of electronic warfare systems. The UK will upgrade the electronic warfare systems of the Type 45 destroyers and the Type 26 and Type 31 frigates. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces will continue to promote the newly established 301st Electronic Warfare Company to form combat power.
Featured development of intelligent technology and unmanned equipment
A new round of scientific, technological and military revolution is developing rapidly around the world, and warfare is rapidly evolving towards the intelligentized form. In order to win future wars, Russia, the US and other major countries have increased investment in scientific research, focusing on intelligent technology, unmanned equipment, and human-machine coordinated tactics.
The US military plans to invest USD 874 million in research and development funds this year to promote the application of intelligent technology in information, command and control, logistics, network defense and other fields. Russia is currently working on more than 150 artificial intelligence (AI) projects. This year, it will focus on adapting intelligent software for different weapon platforms to enhance its combat effectiveness. France, the UK, India and other countries have also strengthened the research on AI technologies and tried to apply them widely in the fields of intelligence reconnaissance, auxiliary decision-making and network security.
The US is the first to explore and has a certain advantage in the field of human-machine coordinated operations. The US plans to organize the first combat test of company-level unmanned armored forces, explore ways for fifth-generation fighter jets to coordinate with unmanned reconnaissance aircraft and drone swarms, and promote the coordinated reconnaissance, anti-submarine, and mine-sweeping tasks between manned and unmanned warships. Russia will promote the integration of unmanned equipment into the manned combat systems as soon as possible while continuing to promote the systematic construction of drones and unmanned vehicles. In addition, France and the UK are also actively exploring human-machine coordinated tactics in military operations such as urban ones.