Global Smart Weapons Market: Safety of Smart Weapons can be compromised by Hackers

Recently, it was reported that Iraq has used F-16 fighter jets, along with smart weapons, in the latest strikes against Islamic State. Though the type of smart weapons used in the strikes was not specified, it was mentioned by the Iraq defense ministry that the strikes have achieved important results. This is the first time the country has used smart weapons. With the technological advancements, smart weapons are increasingly used by the defense sectors across nations. A number of countries are developing smart bombs, missiles, and rifles. The global smart weapons market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 10.30% during the period between 2013 and 2019. The overall market was worth US$34 bn in 2012 and is estimated to be valued at US$66.91 bn by 2019.

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Why Smart Weapons are Preferred?

One of the major factors driving the global smart weapons market is the precise navigation system in a smart weapon that improves its accuracy. For example, the digital and Wi-Fi enabled smart rifle automatically calculates bullet trajectories in such a way that even a novice shooter can turn into pinpoint sniper. The computer-assisted guns allow the shooter to automatically account for the temperature, wind, and the bullet’s weight. Similarly, smart bombs can accurately hit the fixed as well as moving targets. In April this year, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that they have developed bullets that can change directions, to help snipers hit moving targets.  As snipers find it difficult to accurately shoot their targets in windy situations, these smart bullets will help them to achieve accuracy. Accuracy in shooting the target makes smart weapons most sought-after among the defense sectors across nations.

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But how smart are Smart Weapons?

Studies have found that smart weapons such as smart rifles can be exploited by hackers. By identifying the loopholes in a computer-powered sniper rifle, hackers can prevent a gun from firing or hitting the target. By hacking into the gun’s computer, the gun’s actual target can be changed or the onboard files can be deleted, making the aiming system useless. There is also the possibility of a malicious software infecting the gun’s aiming mechanism long after the hacker has exploited the system. The U.S. National Security Agency has revealed that the recent cyber-attacks have compromised the key weapons system including the F-35, the B-2 bomber, the Space based Laser, and other systems. Though technologies such as RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification), biometrics, and microstamping are being installed in smart guns to make them safer for users, other foolproof mechanisms are needed to prohibit the unauthorized access of the various smart weapons. 


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