The beginning of 2010, in the opinion of many scientists, is the stage of the birth of a new technological order based on discoveries in the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, new materials, information and communication and cognitive technologies. The advantage of the new structure compared with the previous one, according to the forecast, will consist in a sharp decrease in the energy intensity and material intensity of production, in the design of materials and organisms with predetermined properties.
Active research is being conducted in these areas in the USA, Europe, Japan, and China. Due to the development of a complex of technologies of a new way, each of the countries hopes to get ahead in the technology race and be the first to introduce them into industry and public institutions, which would be a guarantee of economic leadership and military superiority over the next half century.
It is obvious that Russia has seriously lagged behind the development leaders in the field of modern industrial technologies. But in the case of technologies of a new way of life that do not yet have wide industrial implementation, the very fact of this lag is not fatal. The natural solution for the country is to concentrate available resources on the development of technologies that will ensure its leadership the day after tomorrow.
At the moment when the new technological order, the contours of which today are only groping, will become a reality.
At the same time, it is important to understand: we need to concentrate our efforts on advanced, that is, high-risk studies, not at all because we have an increased propensity to take risks. But rather, on the contrary, because we must eliminate for ourselves an unacceptable risk - the likelihood of a sharp, unfavorable for Russia, shift in the military-strategic balance due to a new generation of technologies coming to the fore. We should not repeat the mistakes of the notorious arms race during the Cold War, but we can avoid participation in the military technology race that has already begun, only at the price of an unacceptably high probability of disappearance from the political map of the world.
Many of the technologies that yesterday occupied the imagination of science fiction - high-precision / selective biomedical weapon, elements of artificial intelligence, creating a new quality of cybertechnologies and management of robotic communities, and so on - today should be concerned about government officials. And especially in Russia - a country that, on the one hand, has something to lose in the global struggle for resources, but on the other hand, it has not yet succeeded in taking reliable positions on the "technological frontier".
TECHNOLOGICAL BARRIER: A CHANCE FOR THE CARRIERS?
Skeptics will say: you need to live to see the anxieties and concerns of the day after tomorrow. And they will be right. Already today, low intensity conflicts around the perimeter of the borders exhaust us. It disturbs the military disparity in the Far East, where Russia is extremely weak not only economically but also militarily, which cannot but affect its status and bargaining position even in the absence of a direct military threat. The answer to these challenges can and should be the development of traditional weapons platforms and production technologies, that is, today's weapons, and de facto yesterday, given the natural inertia in industry and equipment of the Armed Forces.
To parry the already stated, actual, and not hypothetical threats, the complex development of almost all branches of the defense industry is necessary. Speaking of scientific and technical tasks, we can single out several groups of the most important military technologies, the development of which must be supported by placing them on the principle of reduced competence.
1. High competency groups. In these groups, Russia possesses almost the entire set of necessary technologies that ensure independent development of industries with non-critical dependence on imports or the absence of such dependence, and has the potential to improve and develop its potential. In this set: combat aviation and rocketry and technology, the production of engines for military aircraft; non-carrier combat surface ships, submarines; medium and heavy armored combat vehicles; air defense and missile defense systems of all ranges.
2. Groups of insufficient / partially lost competence. In these groups, Russia does not have sufficient potential for completely independent design or production of equipment and essential components, and is forced to rely on foreign partners. This occurs in cases where the relevant research and production centers remained abroad during the division of the USSR, primarily in Ukraine, or in cases where the relevant areas were not sufficiently developed from the outset. In some cases, the lack of competence resulted from the degradation of Russian production associations and design bureaus in the post-Soviet period. These groups include: helicopters and equipment for them; production of helicopter engines; military transport aircraft, commercial aircraft; motor vehicles, light armored combat vehicles, production of low and medium power diesel engines, gearboxes; communications and control equipment for ground forces; unmanned aerial vehicles of the light and middle class, unmanned underwater vehicles, ground robots, engines and equipment for them; small arms, infantry equipment, personal protective equipment; ground cannon artillery systems; aircraft carriers, control ships, universal landing ships; air independent power plants for non-nuclear submarines; spacecraft.
3. Low competence groups. In these groups, Russia either has never had high competencies, or degradation has acquired a systemic scale that calls into question the ability to develop relevant production and development: electronic component base; optical systems; turboprop engines for light-class helicopters and light aircraft; composite materials; UAV heavy class drums UAV.
Technological lag in groups of low and insufficient competence cannot be compensated for simply by buying ready-made technologies and turn-key technological lines. Buy turnkey, you can, as a rule, only "screwdriver technology." At the same time, a policy of technological borrowing in these industries is possible and necessary. It should focus on the full transfer of technology through its development. The transfer of technology implies the possibility, in cooperation with foreign technology centers, to improve it on the basis of its own engineering solutions. If such a solution was developed and implemented in collaboration with representatives of fundamental science, engineering groups, university centers, then we can say that the transfer of technology has been made and it is included in the Russian technological base. One of the approaches to full-fledged technology transfer is the entry into the capital of small and medium-sized innovative companies abroad that carry out research and development for large businesses.
In high competence groups, the current situation can be described by the term “technological barrier”. All developers and manufacturers of weapons from the advanced military-technological countries of the world run into it. The rising cost of military development does not guarantee a proportional growth in the capabilities of the new technology, there is a decrease in return from each invested ruble (or dollar). The cost of aircraft with each generation is growing by an order of magnitude. This leads to an increase in the life cycle of vehicles (the first generation of combat aircraft stayed in the 5 – 7 series for years, the second - 10 – 15, the third - 15 – 20, the fourth generation airplanes created by 30 – 40 years ago remain in the series to this day ) and increase the role of work on the modernization of existing equipment.
The problem of the technological barrier is most relevant to US science and industry. But the EU and Japan are facing the same barrier, and Russia is approaching it. However, in many positions for us it is still ahead. This is a valuable opportunity - to eliminate the backlog that has accumulated in the post-Soviet years from the leader without overstraining and nerves. It is only necessary to choose the key areas correctly, allocate resources and use the so-called “backwardness benefits”: the ability to carry out selective technological borrowing and “cut corners”, that is, not to mechanically repeat the trajectory of the pioneers, but to go to the same targets in a more economical way.
In other words, a catch-up modernization in the framework of traditional technologies and weapon platforms is today possible and necessary. However, it must be clearly understood that it serves the needs of today and cannot be the main stake in development issues. The desire to repeat the success of leaders in the development of industrial technologies that have already been developed will select much more strength and resources than the struggle for leadership in the technologies of a new way.
LEADING DEVELOPMENT: LOOKING OVER THE HORIZON
Prospective technologies are concentrated in five main areas of application: human technology, network technology, robotics, transport, energy.
In the last three positions, Russian specifics are important. As the largest and underdeveloped country, Russia needs efficient “distance reduction” technologies. As a country with bulky and centralized energy systems that are extremely vulnerable in the context of modern wars, Russia needs the development of autonomous energy. Finally, as a country relatively sparsely populated, a country with a very long and turbulent southern border, Russia needs the maximum possible automation and robotization in both industry and military construction.
Let us give several examples of promising areas of scientific and technical research, where practical results can be achieved in the near future.
1. Human technology - the creation of advanced biomedical technologies that can prevent human death as a result of injuries, diseases or infections - from diagnosis to recovery or even complete reconstruction of tissues and organs of the body. Perspective development directions:
- management of the genome - the creation of technologies to manage the ability of a person to survive in extreme conditions due to the activation of existing regulation mechanisms in his own genome;
- artificial blood - the creation of a technology for the industrial production of safe and non-toxic artificial blood, identical to donor blood, due to the controlled differentiation of human stem cells;
- organ bioengineering - creation of technologies for growing organs and tissues from human cells using the method of recreating a natural organ when existing biomedical technologies are already powerless: in cases of loss of vital organs as a result of injuries, infections or the development of malignant neoplasms.
2. Robotics technologies - the creation of equipment capable of performing a wide range of mechanical operations, observing and delivering payloads to any point on Earth, including miniature manipulations, high-altitude movements and underwater operations. Perspective development directions:
- deep-sea autonomous robot - creating a deep-sea autonomous robot with a superlong active operation time for servicing cables and surveying the ocean floor, with the possibility of transmitting data on command using a high-speed long-distance acoustic system;
- exoskeleton / power armor - the creation of an exoskeleton that enhances a person’s muscular strength and facilitates the performance of heavy work - unloading, loading, repair. In the future - the creation of an autonomous power armor, providing a sharp increase in the combat load of the fighter and increase its security;
- a high-altitude UAV - the creation of a high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance and target designation system of a super-long locking time (up to 1 of the year), using its hyperspectral portrait for target recognition.
3. Network technologies - operating with a set of objects, tools and systems as a single managed space, in particular, converging information (C4ISR + technologies), developing technical means of communication, intelligence and information processing, as well as means of scientific and technical intelligence, socio-cultural analysis and Internet technologies. Perspective development directions:
- neurohybrid pattern recognition chip - the creation of a neurochip based on the culture of animal nerve cells of animal embryos for data processing systems with a large number of sensors and cameras capable of learning and expanding computing power;
- integrated network technologies and intelligent networks for managing robots - creating technologies for operating a set of objects, tools and systems as a single managed space, in particular - mixing information (C4ISR + technology), developing technical means of communication, tactical intelligence and information processing, as well as data of the results of heterogeneous means of monitoring and observation, forecasts and modeling.
4. Energy - ensuring the autonomy of existing and promising technology, improving the efficiency of power plants, energy storage. Perspective development directions:
- wireless transmission of electricity - the creation of technologies for the transmission of electrical energy without the use of conductive elements in an electrical circuit. Increases autonomy of existing equipment and infrastructure;
- ionistors and redox-batteries - development and implementation of technologies allowing to ensure high speed of charging devices and technical devices;
- power plants based on biofuels and “associated heat” - the development and implementation of systems that maximize the use of organic waste energy and renewable resources (plants), as well as the associated heat of existing industrial and energy systems.
5. Transport - the creation of technologies that allow people and means of destruction to move in space through even faster air travel, massive space flights, as well as the most secure and autonomous movements on the ground. Perspective development directions:
- hypersonic aircraft - the creation of an aircraft capable of flying in the atmosphere with hypersonic speed and over long distances;
- electromagnetic catapult - the creation of the installation, alternative to the jet engine, to accelerate objects with the help of electromagnetic forces;
- space elevator - the creation of a cable transportation system based on the action of centrifugal force will reduce the cost of delivering cargo to the geostationary orbit by several orders of magnitude and from there to Earth.
Achievements of high scientific results in critical technologies will provide a breakthrough to a completely new technological level. Accordingly, any efforts beyond critical technologies can only have a temporary effect, which is not critical in the future. This is precisely what distinguishes the defense research programs of leading countries, on the one hand, and countries of the second and third world, on the other. While the latter are improving traditional weapons and security platforms, the former are increasingly focused on breakthrough critical security technologies.
If Russia misses time, the consequences can be difficult: the lag in these sectors will have to be made up for decades, while qualitative changes can provide the enemy with an overwhelming superiority in combat capability and, as a result, undermine the capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the lives and freedoms of its citizens.
INSTITUTES OF ADVANCED DEVELOPMENT: WORLD EXPERIENCE
The spheres of equipment of the armed forces and industry are very inertial, they naturally act as supporters of the status quo and are interested, as a rule, only in improving and modernizing traditional weapons platforms. Therefore, special institutes are sometimes created for the tasks of advanced development, designed to at least partially redirect the system of defense R & D from the past, that is, from servicing existing platforms, to the future.
In the US, it is the world famous DARPA. In Israel, the Directorate for the Development of Armaments and Industrial Technical Infrastructure (MAFAT), as well as the Office of the Chief Scientist (VSU) of the Israel Industrial Technology Ministry, is a unique institution designed to plan science and technology policy in promising areas. In France, the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) is the main state-owned investor in the technology field of tomorrow. In the PRC, the State Administration of Defense Science, Technology, and Industry (GUONTP, SASTIND).
Each of these institutions is unique, but they have common features that should be present in the Russian counterpart: high communication activity, in which broad sectors of the scientific, technical and business community are involved in the projects, including international cooperation programs; high level of competition in the development and flexibility of organizational forms; high rate of change of technological paradigms and susceptibility to new knowledge.
Russia has created a similar tool aimed at supporting the development of advanced technologies and developments - the Advanced Research Foundation (PFD). The Foundation has an obvious difference from the listed institutions. The same DARPA exists in a developed defense research and development support system. The US military has subordinate hundreds of research and development units aimed at solving current problems. We do not have such a system today. Already at the start of work, the managers of the Fund will have to face the problem of the research and production base. While foreign counterparts are now working in the finished infrastructure of innovation.
CHALLENGES FOR PERSPECTIVE RESEARCH FUND
Ideas of advanced development often cause skepticism among observers, and it is quite natural. However, skeptics often do not take into account that different spheres of science and technology sometimes exist in different times. There are systems that in Russian conditions are very far behind the average level of Western countries, but there are institutions and systems that lead in the development of knowledge and even technological solutions. This heterogeneity of the development space should be taken into account by the technological policy of the state. The experience of managing “leading” activity systems can become a model in terms of the formation of the basic framework of the national innovation system.
Research by the Center for Science Statistics under the leadership of Dmitry Rubwalter revealed about 80 areas of scientific knowledge in which the level of Russian scientists exceeds the world average (studies were conducted on the basis of the citation index and in fairly wide areas). In the course of work on the report on the concept of development of the Advanced Research Foundation, the authors of these lines had the opportunity to see that many scientists and developers who are held in leadership positions in their fields have much to offer to military science and the defense industry.
In other words, in the Russian practice-oriented science there are sprouts of the future that can develop not only into new technologies, but also into new industries. However, this development rests on a number of barriers. If for a long time there was a shortage of funds, today other problems are coming to the fore.
1. The absence of a single body regulating the technological policy of the state. Not a single state structure is capable of simultaneously setting scientific and technical tasks, planning their implementation, and supporting work until a specific result is achieved. The lack of a target order in the scientific and technical sphere, interdepartmental and supra-departmental coordination makes the support of science unsuccessful. In this situation, a slight improvement in existing technologies is possible, but the formation of a new technological agenda and its translation in the form of specific requirements for technical developments is hardly possible.
2. The decline of applied science and the lack of a developed system of defense research and development. In the USSR, there was a powerful network of applied institutes, design institutes that carried out research and development, as well as the SCST system responsible for the quality of development. It was in these institutes that the R & D was conducted, which ensured the advancement from basic research to practical use. This network was the most destroyed in the post-Soviet period. While the fundamental science in Russia in the post-Soviet period continued to receive government funding and somehow survive, the branch science (research institutes, design bureaus, university laboratories), designed to develop prototypes and adapt them to implementation, gradually degraded. In the case of defense research, the matter is exacerbated by the legacy of the “Serdyukov” reforms: the notorious optimization has particularly sharply affected the teams of defense research institutes and universities.
3. Underdevelopment and inflexibility of contracting mechanisms in the field of R & D. Procedural flaws are the result of substantive ones: working for reporting, and not for result, is closely related to the lack of practice of setting scientific and technical tasks, with the inability of the state to form a specific and correct target order for the development of technologies. Among the problems in this area are often mentioned: restrictions on the executors, when the contract is formally concluded with the organization, and the role of the project manager is insignificant (with the exception of RFBR grants, where agreements are worked out directly with the researcher), the tendency towards contract unification case, for example, in matters of intellectual property rights), the opacity of competitive procedures.
4. Lack of pre-venture financing mechanisms. Representatives of venture capital in Russia complain about the lack of interesting investment tools. Scientists and developers - for a lack of investment. In addition to the natural professional aberration of vision, this mismatch of perspectives also has an objective reason: most of the developments simply do not get a chance to reach the stage when they may become interesting to venture capital. Available financial instruments come into effect only after the prospect of commercialization of the development. Up to this point, other forms of innovation support are needed, mostly related to the scientific and technological ordering mechanisms existing in most developed countries at the level of the state and / or corporations. In the Russian Federation, similar mechanisms are missing or are in their infancy. The state-owned development institutions, Rosnano, RVC and others, do not solve this problem.
5. Lack of domestic technology market. Insufficient demand for new technologies from Russian corporations is associated with objective, systemic reasons, and not only with a low level of entrepreneurial culture. The assets of Russian corporations belong primarily to obsolete structures. Under these conditions, it is difficult to develop high-tech productions capable of competing in the civilian market with the products of Western corporations, and such examples are still extremely rare.
FROM INNOVATION PROJECTS - TO INNOVATION SYSTEM
The problems and risks listed above are not only limitations of the external environment that will have to be taken into account in the operation of the FPI. These are the challenges that the project must answer. Of course, the Fund cannot solve all the problems listed nationwide, but it can and should solve them on the scale of its own activities.
First of all, according to its design, the Foundation is intended to be an instrument of target order from the state in the field of science and technology policy. And potentially - a mechanism for coordinating priority inter-specific, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral scientific and technical research projects across departmental boundaries. An important element of its activities should be not only the order and financing of development, but also their support at subsequent stages of the life cycle, up to the introduction into production / arming. In many cases, it is not so much financial resources that will be important as the project’s status as a priority, trustworthy one, which would allow, with less friction, coordination in various government agencies.
Secondly, the Foundation is focused on supporting research and development at complex and vulnerable stages of the innovation cycle - the transition from developments embodied, as a rule, in experimental single devices to full-fledged technology.
Thirdly, the organizational and legal form of the Fund, established aside from the departmental R & D system, creates additional freedom of action in making decisions and organizing procedures. The Foundation can afford not only to formally execute instructions and regulations, but also, the only one in the entire infrastructure of defense research, to disregard red tape, discard prejudices and do just that for the good of the cause.
In other words, the very idea of the Foundation, expressed in the law, creates a unique opportunity to fill those gaps in the national innovation system, which do not allow to reveal the potential of advanced developments. Replenish - at least in relation to a limited number of priority defense projects. But often it is the experience of individual projects that allows you to go to system solutions. From Soviet stories One can recall the experience of the Special Committee for the management of work on atomic energy and the First Main Directorate under the SNK / USSR Council of Ministers, as well as the committees on radar and rocket technology. These structures, created under the curtain of the Second World War, were designed to eliminate the backlog of the USSR in the development of relevant types of equipment and industries. Having accomplished this task, they served as the basis for creating not the emergency and emergency, but the basic mechanisms of scientific and technical policy in the military-industrial complex.
Of course, we do not have that amount of resources, and possibly that historical time, which are necessary to create something similar in scale to the American or Soviet system of defense R & D. But this is precisely why it is important to clearly define priorities and focus on those groups of critical technologies that are associated with qualitatively new military capabilities and, accordingly, the risks of changing the global strategic balance.
In this work, we can be inspired by the experience of global leadership projects. But we cannot and should not mechanically repeat it - this is the complexity of the game ahead of the curve. Unlike Tolstoy's “happy families”, each successful model of innovative development is successful in its own way.