Future British military operations will require more stand-off or remotely-operated weapons to counter a spread of advanced technologies among its enemies that will make today's conflicts appear "relatively simple" by comparison, according to a Ministry of Defence research paper.
“The proliferation of technology and advanced weapons systems will provide many more states with effective anti-access and area denial capabilities that will impact on operations in every environment," says the MoD in its Future Operating Environment 2035 document.
This will demand the "innovative use" of cyber, precision and stand-off weapons, it says, "as well as stealth, layered defence and automated systems".
“Operations conducted thus far will look relatively simple compared to some of those required in the future operating environment of 2035."
As technological advances make high-altitude airspace more accessible, this is “blurring further the distinction between air and space”. Although there is presently no agreement on how far airspace extends vertically, it is typically considered that it is as high as aircraft can fly. Future aircraft will be able to reach ever higher altitudes, adding "ambiguity" to these borders, it says, potentially provoking confrontation.
“These technologies may stretch our ability to police international airspace and defend our sovereign territory from the air,” it adds.