‘Prototype warfare’: Innovation, optimisation, and the experimental way of warfare

In her latest article ‘”Prototype warfare”: Innovation, optimisation, and the experimental way of warfare’ which appeared in the European Journal of International Security earlier this month, dr. Marijn Hoijtink explores the adaptation by western militaries of an experimental way of warfare.

In recent years, the concept of ‘prototype warfare’ has been adopted by Western militaries to accelerate the experimental development, acquisition, and deployment of emerging technologies in warfare. Building on scholarship at the intersection of Science and Technology Studies and International Relations investigating the broader discursive and material infrastructures that underpin contemporary logics of war and taking a specific interest in the relationship between science, technology, and war, Hoijtink points out how prototype warfare captures the emergence of a new regime of warfare, which she terms the ‘experimental way of warfare’. Hoijtink argues that while warfare has always been defined by experimental activity, the contemporary context is different as experimentation now spans across an increasingly wide range of military practices, operating on the basis of a highly speculative understanding of experimentation that embraces failure as a productive force. Tracing the concept of prototype warfare across Western military discourse and practice and zooming in on how prototype warfare takes experimentation directly into the battlefield, Hoijtink concludes by outlining how prototype warfare reconfigures and normalizes military intervention as an opportunity for experimentation, while outsourcing the failures that are a structural condition of the experimental way of warfare to others, ‘over there’.

Read the full article here.


Dr. Marijn Hoijtink is an assistant professor in International Relations and International Security at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is the principal investigator at the NOW-VENI project ‘Deadly Design’, IRW’s partner in the Prototype Warfare project.