Aerospace and Defense 2024 Technology Trends

by Rick Gronemeyer / March 5, 2024

With the widespread impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies, defense strategies must adapt. One clear example of this adaptation involves soldier training cycles. As commercial and defense technologies such as virtual reality (VR) continue to drive each other forward in a virtual loop, soldier training cycles shorten. Another adaptation involves electromagnetic pulse (EMP) technology. Defense strategies are leveraging advancements in EMP usage by incorporating sophisticated high-power radio frequency (RF) technologies. Thankfully, Benchmark stays updated, fortifying our customers' design, engineering, and manufacturing to deliver future-defining solutions in the A&D industry.

Trend #1: How AI Affects Aerospace and Defense Manufacturers

All warfighter technologies are rapidly evolving, and at the heart of these technical advancements lies AI. With its potential to reshape national security, AI is set to enhance and significantly shorten the decision-making cycle, improve combat effectiveness, and greatly enhance operational efficiency in military operations. Militaries worldwide are already making strides in leveraging AI in areas such as autonomous reconnaissance, combat systems, data analysis, and cybersecurity.

According to the Federal News Network, within the next few years, AI will enable new, advanced applications (such as swarm intelligence and predictive analytics) and strengthen cybersecurity as computational growth, big data, and emerging technologies in wearables amplify our embedded systems converge. These applications will make military fighting forces more efficient, agile, and capable.

AI Enhancing the Use of UAVs

Defense News recently reported that defense organizations worldwide are accelerating their plans to incorporate drone wingmen alongside piloted fighter jets. Benchmark's expertise in flight systems, software development, and operational integration positions us as an industry leader capable of contributing to the success of collaborative combat aircraft (CCA) programs. As various defense organizations put far greater emphasis on experimenting with autonomous flight and incorporating CCAs into their squadrons, our company's capabilities align well with the need for cutting-edge solutions that prioritize warfighter safety.

AI has also significantly enhanced soldiers' roles in the field, especially in using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Militaries now employ AI in virtually every drone mission, achieving greater precision in target planning and mission completion. For these missions, high-value targets are almost always positively identified using facial recognition. The information is passed on to decision makers for the next steps in mission execution, boasting nearly 100% accuracy in locating and targeting high-value targets. The United States, for example, uses AI for identification by leveraging facial recognition to enhance intelligence gathering. AI technology also holds promise for vastly improving logistics and supply chain operations, showcasing the multifaceted impact of AI in military applications.

Supply Chain and Logistics

As the logistics and supply chain management landscape evolves with AI trends, Benchmark is strategically poised to leverage the positive impacts of AI. The industry is experiencing a surge in AI-powered robotics that can enhance complex assembly operations, improve manufacturing efficiency, and optimize aircraft design processes. With our expertise in AI technology, Benchmark can offer innovative solutions for predictive maintenance, quality control, and supply chain optimization.

By integrating AI algorithms to analyze large amounts of sensor data, we can help detect anomalies, predict failures, and proactively trigger maintenance actions, thereby reducing downtime and optimizing performance. In a military setting, reducing downtime means equipment stays in the field where it can support the mission.

Trend #2: Shortening the Training Cycle of Soldiers

The military landscape is driven by ever-changing threats, advancing technology, and a new generation of digital-native trainees. In response, new initiatives are emerging that integrate synthetics, supercomputing, data analytics, and augmented reality (AR) to provide collaborative and immersive synthetic training for future military forces. The digital environment addresses the challenges of live training, offering geographic freedom and secure joint exercises with allies worldwide.

While emphasizing the ongoing importance of live training, there are safety and learning advantages when paired with synthetic training. This involves incorporating AI and machine learning (ML) for enhanced insights. Government agencies seek low-cost, non-developmental, or commercial UAVs for unit training and operations. For example, the Program Executive Office Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is actively looking for industry partners to ensure soldiers have access to high-fidelity, realistic training, testing, and threat products, ensuring they maintain their position as a leading land fighting force. PEO STRI prioritizes key areas encompassing intelligence, electronic warfare, tactical proficiency training, persistent cyber training environments, and synthetic training environments.

At Benchmark, we understand that reducing training time for soldiers is critical in today's rapidly changing military environment. VR and AR in soldier training offer immersive and realistic simulations that can efficiently replicate combat scenarios that enhance training effectiveness while reducing the necessary time for traditional training exercises. By integrating AI algorithms, training platforms can personalize learning experiences, identify individual strengths and weaknesses, and adapt training regimens accordingly. This strategic integration leads to shorter training cycles and improved readiness by ensuring soldiers are quickly equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, allowing for more frequent and adaptive training sessions.

Adaptive training and testing environments enable soldiers to hone their skills in various scenarios, optimizing their performance and readiness for real-world missions. Sustainable live and virtual training solutions offer soldiers, units, and leaders the flexibility to maintain readiness at all times, whether through onsite live exercises or remote virtual simulations, ensuring readiness remains a top priority in today's ever-changing security landscape.

Benchmark supports VR programs and tools such as digital range training systems (DRTS) that can train forces of other countries to shorten the training cycle (e.g., simulations for air defense). By providing DRTS hardware that integrates with live training sessions for data collection and analysis, we can help train soldiers to maneuver better fire tanks. It is possible to ship the equipment to allies overseas and provide them with the capability to use it effectively, saving time and cost compared to training on our soil. 

Trend #3: EMP —The Use of EMP to Deny Enemy Capabilities

The strategic use of EMP technology is a critical trend in 2024. Drones, now ubiquitous in global conflicts and leveraged by state and non-state actors, demand consistent, reliable countermeasures. One of the most promising among these technologies is EMPs which have the capability to render drones inoperable mid-flight. The size and weight of the UAV determine the power needed to neutralize the asset, and the most advanced EMP systems are able to adjust as required. 

In addition to military operations, UAVs pose a critical threat to high-profile events or critical infrastructure sites. The need for EMP solutions is compelling here, too. This technology safeguards civilian spaces, government facilities, and even nuclear sites, addressing emerging threats like illicit drone drops over prisons. As EMP technology continues to quickly advance, collaborating with a qualified design engineering and manufacturing company ensures access to skills required to support the latest EMP technologies.

Trend #4—Spoofing

Spoofing is an emerging critical trend within defense strategy, manipulating signals or data to deceive adversaries. In the context of using enemy assets in theater without their knowledge, spoofing could entail covertly accessing their communication systems or sensors, altering the data or signals, and then utilizing the compromised information for one’s own purposes. This could include gaining intelligence or controlling their assets without realizing they are being manipulated.

The potential of AI and ML has amplified the significance of this issue as these technologies have made spoofing more sophisticated and more complex to detect. Spoofing can take on many forms, from criminals replicating voices for deceptive calls to more advanced approaches involving AI-generated videos and redirected orders using the voices of commanders and leaders. This intricate trend underscores the critical need for advanced technologies and strategies to combat it effectively.

Partnering with a cutting-edge engineering and manufacturing company becomes necessary to navigate this landscape effectively. These strategic partnerships will be critical in developing new solutions that can detect and prevent spoofing in all its forms.

Benchmark—Helping Shape the Future of Military Readiness

Benchmark is a leading electronics product realization services company within the A&D industry. We offer design engineering and manufacturing capabilities to support the advancing technologies of industry leaders. As the industry continues to evolve, being aware of the latest trends is essential for success and innovation, such as AI, ML, and high-powered radio frequency (RF) system integration. With our expertise in RF technology, Benchmark supports RF technology trends in the defense market. Our company offers systems integration for various applications, from satellite receivers to cockpit and radar systems.

Combining engineering experience and expertise with manufacturing, Benchmark provides the engineering design and manufacturing capabilities to transform a concept into a practical subsystem or system from one partner. Benchmark meets the highest standards, developing and building modular subsystems that improve land, air, and sea performance and reliability. We provide the engineering skills to ruggedize commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components that meet military standards for the harshest operating conditions. Our system integration capabilities include software development and enhancement, improved power efficiency, and complete hardware design and development at all levels, from components and printed circuit boards (PCBs) through complete subsystems.

Benchmark Lark Technology (Lark) offers custom filters with exceptional performance at competitive prices for aerospace, defense, and satellite communications applications. Lark's engineering team customizes filters to specifications, handling the most challenging environmental operating conditions. Lark supports many customers in challenging Electronic Warfare (EW) applications.

Contact Benchmark today to learn how we can help you achieve your goals in aerospace and defense technologies. 

Defense Aerospace Design & Engineering Benchmark Lark Technology Connected Battlespace Ruggedization Electronic Warfare

about the author

Rick Gronemeyer

Rick Gronemeyer is a business development executive in the Aerospace and Defense sector at Benchmark, Inc. He graduated from West Point and served 26 years in the Army, retiring in 2013, and has vast experience running large supply chain management organizations for four fortune 500 companies (John Deere, Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, and Celestica). Rick hails originally from Iowa and is an avid football fan of the Army, the Iowa Hawkeyes, and the Green Bay Packers. He holds a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy and an MSA from Central Michigan.

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