The Role of AI in Hybrid Warfare

Chudova Olga
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University;

Iskorostinskiy Nikita
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University;

Pankov Artem
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University;


It is commonly known that artificial intelligence (AI) exertion in all spheres has been growing considerably for the last few decades and that scholars are still debating the means and instrument that can be implemented effectively and safely in those spheres. The research focuses on the utilisation of AI in hybrid warfare. The article aims to estimate its application and forecast its development. The study is based on case study and comparative methods.

The paper opens with the elaboration on the role of AI in modern world and its influence on modern conflicts. As the world changes and develops further artificial intelligence will be gaining traction in many spheres of human life. The article ponders that AI technologies have changed many political processes and the application of AI in combat. Those technologies allow politicians to gain strategic advantage over the opponent as well as enforce own defence. The study provides a number of possible application variants. The paper states that AI may also be applicable in descion-making in order to inform decision-makers on public opinion. The research highlights the case of China as one the most successful in this regard. The Great Firewall allows Chinese government to control the online narrative on political issues. The findings reveal that AI has become a part of global politics as a means that can help solve many issues both in domestic and foreign policies. However, those technologies also present new challenges and ethical concerns as they develop.


In recent years, the world has seen an unprecedented rise in the application of AI-based technologies in various fields, including warfare and political decision-making. The advent of AI has transformed the way people approach and address complex challenges, including those that arise during hybrid conflicts. This article explores the role of AI-based technologies in hybrid conflicts, with a particular focus on its application in combat and political decision-making.

Omnipresent AI as a Pillar of Digitalization

AI is rapidly turning into an omnipresent technology that underpins many aspects of digitalization. It enables machines to learn from experience, adapt to changing environments, and perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence. AI-based technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision have already transformed many industries, including healthcare, finance, and transportation. In the context of hybrid conflicts, the importance of AI-based technologies is growing substantially as they improve decision-making and provide enhanced situational awareness by processing and analyzing vast amounts of data from multiple sources, including sensor networks, social media feeds, and other intelligence sources.

Application of AI in Combat

The practices of AI-based technologies in combat operations is becoming increasingly important as militaries around the world seek to gain a strategic advantage on the battlefield. One example of an AI-based system employment in combat operations is the MQ-9 Reaper drone, which is employed for a variety of missions, including reconnaissance, offensive strikes, and defensive operations.

In terms of reconnaissance, the MQ-9 Reaper drone is equipped with a range of sensors, including high-resolution cameras and radar systems, that can provide real-time situational awareness to military commanders. This information can be beneficial to track enemy movements, identify potential threats, and help troops on the ground make better-informed decisions. The MQ-9 Reaper drone is also capable of offensive operations, such as precision strikes on enemy targets. The drone is rigged with a range of weapons systems, including Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs, that can be utilised to destroy enemy positions and equipment. The implementation of AI algorithms can also help to improve the accuracy of these strikes, by analyzing sensor data and identifying the best targets for attack.

In defensive operations, AI-based systems such as the SkyHunter system can be deployed to detect and track enemy drones, providing critical situational awareness to military personnel and enabling faster and more effective responses to threats. The SkyHunter system combine an array of radar, electro-optical and infrared sensors, and AI algorithms to detect and track enemy drones in real-time. Once a drone is detected, the system can automatically alert human operators, who can take appropriate defensive action, such as jamming the drone's communications or shooting it down.

Overall, AI-based technologies are vital in combat operations, providing enhanced situational awareness, improved decision-making, and enabling autonomous systems. From the MQ-9 Reaper drone's reconnaissance and offensive capabilities to the SkyHunter system's defensive capabilities, these tools are cornerstone of modern battlefield, helping militaries to gain a strategic advantage over their adversaries.

Use of AI-based Tools in Political Decision-making

AI-based tools can also be applied to inform political decision-making during hybrid conflicts. The exertion of AI-based technologies can help decision-makers identify emerging threats, evaluate potential outcomes, and develop effective strategies. For example, AI-based tools can analyze social media data to identify trends and sentiments, providing decision-makers with valuable intel on public opinion.

The Chinese government's "Great Firewall" is a well-known example of how AI-based algorithms are employed to monitor and control public opinion within the country. The system consists of a combination of machine learning algorithms and human moderators to filter incoming information from the World Wide Web, blocking foreign propaganda and politically sensitive content from reaching Chinese citizens. The Great Firewall works by using AI to monitor Internet traffic and social media platforms for keywords and topics that are considered politically sensitive by the government, filters and blocks content containing them. The system allows the government to effectively control what information is available to Chinese citizens.

The application of the Great Firewall during times of political unrest is one of indicative instances. During the 2019 Hong Kong protests, the Chinese government implemented the system to monitor and control the narrative surrounding the protests on Chinese social media platforms, blocking content that was deemed to be supportive of the protests or critical of the Chinese government's response. The Great Firewall also underpins political decision-making in China by providing the government with valuable insights into public opinion. By monitoring social media platforms, the Chinese government can gauge public sentiment towards certain policies or issues, allowing them to make informed decisions about how to respond to them. It is worth noting that the Great Firewall is a unique example of how AI-based algorithms are being exercised to monitor and control public opinion within a country, and it is unlikely that a similar system could be applied in other countries due to different political and social contexts.

However, the use of AI-based tools in political decision-making is not without its challenges. One concern is the potential for biases to be introduced into decision-making processes. For example, if the data intended to train an AI system is biased, the system's outputs will also be biased. As such, it is essential to procure that AI-based tools are developed and deployed in a transparent and ethical manner.


The rise of AI-based technologies is transforming the way people approach and address complex challenges, including those that arise during hybrid conflicts. AI-based technologies ensure augmented situational awareness and improve decision-making. However, the utilisation of AI in hybrid conflicts presents new challenges and ethical concerns, and there is a growing need for international regulations to govern their application. In essence, it is crucial to ensure that AI-based technologies are developed and deployed in a transparent and ethical manner to enhance their potential benefits.


  1. Alford, Jr., Lionel D. 2000. “Cyber Warfare: Protecting Military Systems." Acquisition Review Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 2, p. 10
  2. Bălăceanu, Ion, Ionuț-Cosmin Buță, 2020. “Hybrid warfare’s influence in the military decisionmaking process”, Proceedings The 16th International Scientific Conference “Strategies XXI” Global Security and National Defence, National Defence Security “Carol I”, Bucharest, 15-20.
  3. Bărbieru, Dragos, Elena Șușnea, and Dan Șuteu Ștefan-Antonio. 2019. "Integrated software platform for malware analysis of mobile terminals". Bulletin of "Carol I" National Defense University 8 (3).
  4. Bovet, A., Makse, H.A. 2019. “Influence of fake news in Twitter during the 2016 US presidential election”. Nature Communications 10 (7): 1-1
  5. Brown, Nina. 2020. “Deepfakes and the Weaponization of Disinformation”, 23 VA. J.L. & TECH. 1.
  6. Chaudhry, J., Pathan, AS.K., Rehmani, M.H. et al. 2018. Threats to critical infrastructure from AI and human intelligence. J Supercomput 74, 4865-486
  7. Cormier, Daniel J. 2020. “Will the united states learn from the Iraq war?” Naval War College Review 73 (1): 159-163.
  8. Crowdy, Terry. 200 Deceiving Hitler: double cross and deception in World War II. Oxford: Osprey. 283, 21
  9. Csanád, Fekete. 2018. “The strategic aspects of information warfare”. Hadtudomanyi Szemle = Military Science Review 11 (4): 149-172.
  10. Department of Homeland Security, 2003. The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets,
  11. Evans, Carol V. 2020. “Future warfare: weaponizing critical infrastructure”. Parameters 50 (2): 35-42.