Rethinking Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation in Defence/Security Industry: Interoperability of Soldier-Engineer/Scientist

Article

Defense industry and relevant research and development (R&D) and innovation have faced many challenges since the end of the Cold War. As the challenges have long stemmed mainly from increased defense budget cuts, though competition environment and technological asymmetries between dominant and emerging actors, new dynamics are added to such already complex set of factors....

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oktay BİNGÖL
Central Strategy Institute

1. Introduction

Defense industry and relevant research and development (R&D) and innovation have faced many challenges since the end of the Cold War. As the challenges have long stemmed mainly from increased defense budget cuts, though competition environment and technological asymmetries between dominant and emerging actors, new dynamics are added to such already complex set of factors. One factor is fast changes in global and regional strategic security environments, unpredictable threats, and technologically and cognitively rapid adaptive adversaries. In the years to come, the convergence of emerging trends in the technological, geopolitical and business environments threatens to profoundly disrupt the global defense industry (1).

Consequently, three major issues come forward in any discussion regarding the future of defense industry matters. First is to meet the urgent and future requirements of defense and security institutions in a timely and suitable manner. In the 21st Century where speed is high and quick adaptation is a must, current operational needs take the priority. Thus, defense industry, particularly defense R&D and innovation is expected to field new products in order for the military and security forces to fight the new threats. On the other hand, defense and security industry, especially long-run incremental R&D must respond to the requirements of future threats and future strategic environment in order for nations’ armies to adapt in a timely manner. In addition to these major issues, the sustainability of the defense industry as a business and its contribution to nation’s economy is increasingly questioned.
 
The main question of this article is to find out if the present defense R&D paradigm is effective in meeting new emerging and fast changing requirements and to discuss disruptive innovation as an alternative. In this regard, firstly, dominant paradigm in defense R&D and innovation is analyzed focusing on the western defense industry practices, then crisis of this paradigm and the options to manage it are discussed in the following chapters. Disruptive innovation is taken as an option especially for emerging defense industry actors like Turkey. After a short discussion of Turkish defense industry achievements and
weaknesses, some recommendations in terms of civil-military integration and interoperability of soldier-engineer/scientist are made to facilitate innovations.

(1) Ben FitzGerald, Kelley Sayler, “Creative Disruption: Technology, Strategy and the Future of the Global Defense Industry“, Center for New American Security, June 2014, 7. https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/creative-disruption-technology-strategy-and-the-future-of-theglobal-defense-industry

Link to the related book: New Security Ecosystem and Multilateral Cost
 
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