KC30A Elephant Walk

01/27/2020

On 15 November 2019, No. 33 Squadron prepared five of its KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transports for launch at the same time, demonstrating the Squadron’s ability to surge to meet Australia’s strategic air mobility requirements.

At RAAF Base Amberley, the five KC-30As conducted an ‘elephant walk’ – the traditional name given to a group of aircraft taxiing together – before four of these aircraft took off on missions that included air-to-air refuelling training, a flight test activity, and airlift support to rural firefighters in New South Wales.

Air Force operates a fleet of seven KC-30As, with the first introduced to Air Force service in 2011.

Instances where a majority of the KC-30A fleet are together at RAAF Base Amberley are rare, with the aircraft used extensively to deploy Defence personnel and Air Force aircraft over long distances, as well as sustaining operations and exercises with air-to-air refuelling.

Australian Department of Defence

November 27, 2019

How Prepared is Germany and the EU for 21st Century Geo-political Competition?: Assessing the Recent Financial Times interview with Chancellor Merkel

01/26/2020

By Kenneth Maxwell

Angela Merkel has been in power for 14 years. She was first elected as chancellor of Germany in 2005. She was then re-elected in 2009, and again in 2013, and for a further term in 2018. She plans to stay on until 2021.

67% of Germans approve of this and only 29% oppose.

She is the most powerful leader within the EU. What she says matters. In particular it matters because Germany will assume the presidency of the EU during the second half of 2020. The newly installed president of the European Commission is also a German, Ursula von der Leyen, who is a Merkel protégée. Von der Leyen was between 2013 and 2020 the German Minister of Defence.

Only Vladimir Putin has been in power longer than Angela Merkel.

Putin was appointed acting President of Russia by Boris Yeltsin on December 31, 1999, having served until then as Yeltsin’s head of security. Putin’s recent constitutional changes make clear he plans to retain effective power after his current presidential term ends in 2024.

Merkel in Germany and Putin in Russia will have a lot to say about how Europe reacts to the challenging dynamics of geo-strategic change over the next few years.

Merkel, unlike the French president Emanuel Macron, says that NATO is not “brain dead.” Which is reassuring up to a point. Especially as this comes from the most powerful political leader in the European Union.

But what is most striking about Merkel’s interview with The Financial Times is not so much what she says but what she goes not say. It is certainly true that Europe, as Merkel acknowledged, is “no longer” at the center of the world. What apparently, she means is that Europe is no longer at the “interface of the Cold War.”

But this has been true for several decades.

The end of the Cold War 30 years ago brought about the reunification of Germany and the rise of German economic and political power and influence at the core of a geographically expanded European Community, and, of course, the possibility of the rise of the former East German Angela Merkel to become the chancellor of a reunited Germany.

In particular the post-Cold War years saw the incorporation of the former Soviet dominated territories to the Eastern Europe into the “new” Europe.

This is something Merkel does not comment on. Which is odd given the role of the government of Hungary, for example, that is critical to the new intra-European conflicts and disagreements over national identity, and above all over migration.

Migration is the elephant in the room here. Hungary was on the front line of the tens of thousands of refugees and economic migrants which poured over the Balkans from Turkey and Greece, from Syria and points east and west 1.1 million of them were received during 2015 into Germany. Putin has found a happy hunting ground in Hungary as a result.

There is also no mention of Turkey. Which is odd since Germany was opposed to the entrance of Turkey into the EU (and there are many Turks living in Germany) and helped broker (and in part pay for) the financial deal which keep Syrian refugees there and stopped their onward escape into Europe via Greece.

Of course, Russia has become the major outside military and political power in Syria from which a large part of the refugees fleeing the conflict come from.

It is also odd that she does not deal with the draconian economic policies forced on the southern European EU members (Greece, Portugal. Spain and Italy) by the German dominated European Central Bank (ECB) in the wake of the eurozone crisis. Nor does she talk about Poland engaged in a dispute with the EU over judicial independence.

Merkel, however, see a diminution of the position of Germany in comparison with the exponential rise of China and the resilience of the U.S. China overtook Germany in 2007 in terms of global output.

Germany, she says is “too small to exert geo-political Influence on its own.” She has led 7 trade delegations to China since 2005. Germany, she believes lacks enough skilled workers, especially in engineering and in software engineering. Germany, she says does not currently have capabilities in certain sectors, chips, hyperscalers, and battery cells and artificial intelligence (AI).

And there is major conflict within her coalition over Huawei. Currently, there is US pressure on Germany (and on other European countries including Britain) to reject the Chinese companies fifth generation telecom equipment, which the U.S. (and many in Germany and Britain) regard as a security risk.

Among the liberal democracies, the Australians have led the way on excluding the Chinese company from Australian efforts to build a 5G network, and the Australians have been active in Europe making their case as well.

But Merkel is hosting in Leipzig an EU-China summit in September.

Neither Russia nor migration figures in Merkel’s galaxy of Germany’s interests. At least they do not figure in this FT interview. Which is also very curious. Germany is involved in the mediation over the Ukraine (though President Donald Trump in his now famous telephone call to the Ukrainian President Volodymye Zelensky said in terms of” burden sharing” that “Germany talks but does nothing.”)

Berlin recently hosted a summit on the conflict in Libya. But there are no German boots on the ground in Libya which is probably just as well in the theater of the North African campaign of Generals Rommel and Montgomery during WW2.

In both of these regions Russia is now a major player. And Libya is the origin (or way station) of the African refugees and economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Italy and this clearly has become a major issue in Italian politics.

The U.S. has been most concerned with European dependence on Russian oil and gas. In particular, it has objected to the EU/Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline energy project in the Baltic Sea. Germany is the beneficiary of this pipeline.

Speaking of NATO, Merkel says that Germany has increased Defense spending by 40% since 2015 and will reach the 2% figure by the 2030s.

But the legacy of Ursula von der Leyen as German Defense minister tells a different story. Hans Peter Bartels of the Bundestag military commission in a damning report last year criticized the state of the German military. According to the report, less than 50% of Germany’s tanks, ships, and aircraft are available for training or operational. There is a lack of vital equipment. The Bundeswehr had to rely in Afghanistan on civilian helicopters for transport and borrowed body armor.

Merkel has promised that the current number of active personnel of 181,000 will rise to 198, 500 by 2025. But the overall picture is of a military lacking equipment, understaffed, and overly bureaucratic, and in the most important and influential EU member, with outdated equipment and a shortage of experts.

Merkel says that Europe will not be autonomous in a military sense in the foreseeable future and like Macron she speaks of European military cooperation. She says that Germany is too small to exist with geo-political influence on it own. Which is of course quite true.

In fact, Germany in the twilight years of the Merkel regime is the hollow core at the center of the European doughnut as far as defense is concerned. She says Germany is too small without Europe.

But Germany is bigger than Britain, a fact it is well worth remembering on the eve of Brexit.

The featured photo: GRANSEE, GERMANY – AUGUST 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived to deliver a joint press statement prior to their meeting at Schloss Meseberg palace, the German government retreat, at Meseberg on August 18, 2018 in Gransee, Germany. The two leaders meet to discuss a variety of issues, including the current international sanctions imposed on Russia, the situation in Syria as well as the situation in eastern Ukraine. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

Source of the photo:

https://www.politico.eu/article/merkel-and-putin-agree-to-more-talk-on-ukraine/

Also, see the following:

Chancellor Merkel’s Financial Times Interview: Shaping a Way Ahead for Germany

Europe and the Libyan Crisis: Geopolitics of a European Union or Traditional European Geopolitics?

 

 

 

 

Europe and the Libyan Crisis: Geopolitics of a European Union or Traditional European Geopolitics?

01/25/2020

By Pierre Tran

Paris – The next few weeks will be critical for Libya as much depends on opposing sides of the civil war maintaining a fragile ceasefire and their foreign backers observing an arms embargo, Tarek Megerisi, policy fellow at the European Council for Foreign Relations, said in a panel debate on Libya held in Paris, France on January 22, 2020.

The ceasefire and embargo were two key measures in the 55-point communiqué issued at the Jan. 19 Berlin conference on Libya, he said at the debate, titled “What Next for Libya After the Berlin Conference.”

A split in Europe, the absence of the US, and direct intervention by Turkey and Syrian militia are among foreign elements which add complexity to armed strife in Libya, panel speakers said.

That civil war is effectively a “proxy war,“ fought by foreign nations through the Libyan Government of National Accord and the rebel forces, said Leela Jacinto, journalist at television channel France 24 and moderator for the ECFR panel.

The recent deployment of Turkish troops and Syrian militia to back the national government was a “game changer,” she said.

The Berlin conference offered a slim chance for the ceasefire to be upheld and would call for the foreign backers to uphold their commitments to step back from the conflict. More than 2,000 people have been killed and 200,000 displaced.

“Everybody is ready to resume fighting so unless this brief opening is seized quickly, we’ll be back at square one in a couple of weeks,” Megerisi said.

In Libya, there were low expectations for the Berlin conference, with a sense of helplessness as Libyans saw themselves as merely “spectators at a football match,”  said Mary Fitzgerald, researcher and consultant.

At the high-level gathering in Berlin, backed by the UN and German chancellor Angela Merkel, the national government and rebel force agreed on those officers who would sit on a military committee (5+5 committee) for stabilization in the ceasefire.

Libyan and many international representatives signed up for that Berlin accord, the latest in a series of political efforts to stem the war racking the Arab nation since 2014.

In Tripoli, in western Libya, there is the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, while in Benghazi in the east, there is Gen. Khalifa Haftar, head of the opposing Libyan National Army (LNA). There are also a number of militia forces active on the ground.

The long-standing conflict intensified some 10 months ago, when Haftar launched an air and ground attack on Tripoli in a bid to overthrow the GNA.

Just shortly before the Berlin conference, Haftar seized control of the nation’s oil facilities in the eastern region, effectively the economic life blood of Libya.

The US embassy in Libya formally called on the LNA to lift that oil blockade, the only international response to that action, with no joint European reaction, Fitzgerald said. It remained to be seen whether Washington would put pressure on Haftar to end that blockade.

A sense of the cynicism over the Berlin meeting grew out of the knowledge that the formal communiqué was drafted weeks before the conference while there were “blatant violations” of the arm embargo and fighting on the ground, she said.

Germany and the European Union account for some 75 percent of foreign aid to Libya, where oil exports generate $55 million in daily revenue, said Olivier Vallée, researcher and consultant, and specialist in corruption.

The Libyan National Oil Company receives oil and gas revenues from both the eastern and western region, sends the funds to the central bank, which sends them to commercial banks, he said. That meant an equal distribution of wealth between the national government and LNA rebel force.

The Berlin accord included redistribution of resources and reunification of economic institutions, a positive element and first time the call was made in clear terms, he said.

In the European Union, there are differing views, with one side calling for Europe to act as “honest broker” or “mediator,” while the other side prefers to “wait and see” or pursue national interests, Megerisi said. That split is not limited to France and Italy, with the latter making effort to build bridges with the former, he added.

Paris supports Haftar in the east, with the militia led by the Libyan general acting as a buffer to Islamic State irregular fighters entering from neighboring Chad, crossing Libya to enter Niger, an allied nation in the French Barkhane military mission in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, Rome backs al-Sarraj and the national government as there is a oil pipeline and large Italian investment in western Libya. Italy also looks to Tripoli to crack down on people smuggling across the Mediterranean to land on Italian soil.

That conference could only be held in Berlin as Merkel was seen as neutral, while Paris is seen as backing Haftar, Vallée said.

France and Germany are divided on Turkey’s desire to join the European Union, with Paris blocking Ankara’s application for membership, he said. That French rejection “is a critical factor” in Turkey’s entry into Libya, which also recalls the days of its occupancy under the Ottoman empire.

The tighter links between Tripoli and Turkey reflect a perceived lack of support from the EU and led to the Libyan national government signing a memorandum of understanding with Ankara for gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

That deal with Turkey has startled nations in an EastMed coalition which includes Cyprus, France, Greece and Italy, which are working with Egypt and Israel.

Haftar has close links with the U.S., as he has worked with the CIA, which sheltered him and helped him train 600 fighters in Egypt, Vallée said. Before taking action, Haftar communicates to the U.S. either through Egypt or directly with president Donald Trump, he added. Haftar organized the coup d’état against then Libya leader Moammar Kadaffi.

The U.S. position is completely unclear, said Megerisi. There is no interest as president Donald Trump does not want to enter a quagmire.

But the U.S. is a superpower and if Washington made its position clear, that allowed the other actors to adapt to it.

France has long had a presence on the ground in Libya, mostly undisclosed. A helicopter shot down in 2016 killed three special forces troops, a deadly incident acknowledged by then president François Hollande.

Last April, Tunisian authorities caught 13 armed French nationals crossing the common border with Libya, with Radio France International reporting those were French intelligence officers.

The afternoon daily Le Monde ran a Jan. 21 2017 editorial pointing up how the private office of the then defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, had excluded its defense reporter from briefings of the defense ministry.

That exclusion was in response to a Feb. 25, 2016 article from the reporter disclosing French special forces and agents of the DGSE secret intelligence service conducting “clandestine operations” in Libya against the Islamic State, the editorial said.

The Le Monde article apparently particularly annoyed Le Drian as the reporter revealed that Paris “initiated” a Nov. 13 2015 US air strike which killed Abu Nabil, an IS leader in Libya, weekly magazine l’Obs reported.

Besides support from Egypt, France, Russia and Saudi Arabia, the LNA relies on  “mercenaries” from Sudan, Chad and Russia, while the United Arab Emirates is the most robust backer of Hafta, having broken the arms embargo in the past and given air support, Fitzgerald said.

Last April, the UN special representative to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, said “keep your hands out of Libya,” Jacinto said.

The Berlin conference documents highlighted a desire to see some changes.

”We call on all parties concerned to redouble their efforts for a sustained suspension of hostilities, de-escalation and a permanent ceasefire.

“We commit to unequivocally and fully respect and implement the arms embargo established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011) and the Council’s subsequent Resolutions, including the proliferation of arms from Libya, and call on all international actors to do the same.”

There was need to follow up on the Berlin conference, otherwise Europe would be a bystander as Russia and Turkey move in, Megerisi said.

European states needed to ensure the arms embargo was observed and put pressure on the militia groups, with tools such as EU sanctions, travel bans, and bilateral pressure.

“Libya is the pre-eminent case for Europe to play a more active role,” he said.

The alternative was “marginalization of Europe.”

The featured photo shows French President Emmanuel Macron and General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), attendingd a press conference after talks about easing tensions in Libya, in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, near Paris, on  25 July 2017 (AFP)

The featured photo is from the following source:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/libya-conflict-france-honest-broker

Also, see the following:

Chancellor Merkel’s Financial Times Interview: Shaping a Way Ahead for Germany

And the following:

The Libyan Conference in Berlin

 

 

Chancellor Merkel’s Financial Times Interview: Shaping a Way Ahead for Germany

01/24/2020

By Robbin Laird

Recently, The Financial Times published an interview between their editor and their Berlin bureau chief and Chancellor Merkel.

It was interesting for both what it said and what it did not say about the challenges facing Germany and Europe in the period ahead.

Unlike President Macron, the Chancellor dealt with the defense and security challenges by embracing the evolution of NATO.  She argued that it was not “brain dead”: “NATO is alive and kicking.”

She also highlighted that the European Union needed to do more with regard to those challenges which are more European than trans-Atlantic in character.

This meant that a major part of her discussion encompassing defense revolved around how to deal with the United States and what her expectations were.

“An awareness of Germany’s and Europe’s interest in good relations with the United States has grown. Conversely, the United States’ need to look after Europe has declined. These relations are thus in our interest, and if they are in our interest, then naturally we need to play our part.”

She downplayed the Trump dynamic and embraced a broader interpretation of what was going on in trans-Atlantic affairs. She emphasized that with the end of the Cold War, the core focus of the United States had shifted globally.

And that Europe was no longer the center of attention for Americans, whether Trump or Obama was President.

But because Trump was clearly not interested in promoting multilateral answers to American interests, this meant that Europe, which has been built around multilateralism, needs to re-emphasize such capabilities in spite of President Trump’s actions.

“Europe is no longer, so to say, at the centre of world events. That is becoming increasingly clear. Europe’s former position at the frontline — you could say we were the interface of the cold war — came afterwards to an end. That’s why Europe needs to carve out its own geopolitical role and the United States’ focus on Europe is declining. That will be the case with any president.”

The emphasis of the new head of the European Commission, Merkel’s former Minister of Defence, has underscored that the Commission and Europe in that sense must become more “geopolitical.” And fortuitously for the Merkel agenda, Germany holds the Presidency in the second half of 2020, so this convergent view, or German view, will have significant weight in shaping initiatives for 2020.

“For our part, we plan to address two foreign-policy areas. One is the first summit between all EU member states and China that will take place in Leipzig, while the other is a summit in Brussels with the members of the African Union.

“Essentially, these two summits reflect priorities in our global relations. After all, the new president of the commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has said that her commission should be geopolitical. I completely agree with this. And that’s why we will do a great deal of intensive groundwork on the topics to be debated at these summits.”

What she really does not address is the level of division within the European Union itself which poses the key question of whether or not the kind of agreement exists for the geopolitical initiatives she suggests.

Notably, with regard to China, the Chinese have really been very active in working their way into European economies in ways that are not focused on aiding and abetting European unity. And Russia clearly is a core generator of disunion in Europe rather than union, a subject not really discussed either.

She does deal with the question of whether the West as such continues to exist as such.

And underscores the importance of the Western model of democracy and its importance to Germany and to Europe.

She does underscore that authoritarian states clearly are contesting that model and its future.

“We need to face up to this rivalry between systems.”

She underscored the importance of China to the European economies but suggested that one can be a partner and rival at the same time.

In other words, she put a co-opetition concept at the heart of how she saw the way ahead for Germany within Europe dealing with the 21st century authoritarian powers.

But for this to work, Europe will need to work together effectively rather than seeing Russia and China work the gaps in Europe to their advantage, clearly a subject not raised in the interview per se.

With regard to European unity, she noted that such unity has prevailed with regard to dealing with Brexit and the departure of the UK from the European Union.

But shaping the future relationship with the UK, clearly might not see as much unity supporting the exit as sorting through its impact.

One aspect of the large contribution which the UK makes to the European budget will be gone, and the Chancellor notes that is “no walk in the park” dealing with the future budgets from this standpoint.

But the UK leaving the European Union could facilitate greater integration because an ‘ever close union’ was “never a concept of the UK’s EU membership.”

The central impact of Europe has been driven by its economy, and this clearly is facing significant challenges.

Germany as the key economy within Europe is facing fundamental challenges, including the future of its manufacturing exports.

How to shape a way ahead?

Her answer to this is to enhance Germany’s capability to play globally in the digital economy.

And to do so by enhancing Europe’s place in the global economy, which increasingly is based on digitalization and a reset in globalization.

“In my opinion, the great challenge — not for the large companies, but also for the many SMEs — is to understand what digital transformation will involve. It’s no longer enough to merely sell a product. One also needs to develop new products from the data on these products.”

“One needs to develop very different relations between customers and manufacturers. International firms are moving into these customer-manufacturer relations as intermediaries, that is, as a platform that mediates between clients and companies. If our companies don’t manage their own data but instead store it somewhere because they don’t have the possibilities to do so themselves, then what may happen is that we in Germany will increasingly become an extended workbench because we don’t participate in key areas of new value- added.”

She concludes by arguing that Germany and Europe can reshape their economies and to do so working with the authoritarian states as well as their global democratic partners.

“Do we in Germany and Europe want to dismantle all interconnected global supply chains…. because of this economic competition?

“Are we willing to say that we no longer want any global supply chains in which China is involved? Or do we believe that we’re strong enough to define rules by which we can continue to maintain such global supply chains? My experience is that we have benefited as a whole in Germany and Europe from these global supply chains. We don’t need to hide our light under a bushel.”

The featured photo shows President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference in Berlin in March 2014. Photo: AFP

The source of this photo is the following story:

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2004117/germanys-merkel-sees-ties-chinese-premiers-pay

For the Macron interview and comments on that interview, please see the following:

President Macron’s Economist Interview: Reactions and Implications

Also, see:

The Libyan Conference in Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise DUGONG 19

Exercise DUGONG 19, the Royal Australia Navy’s primary Mine Warfare and Clearance training activity, was held in waters around Cockburn Sound coastal locations, Bindoon Training Area and the Western Australian Exercise Area from 7-25 November 2019.

The mine countermeasures tactical training exercise brings key coalition forces together in a combined environment to prepare them for mine countermeasures and diving operations.

Personnel from the navies of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand took part in the exercise.

Australian Department of Defence

December 3, 2019

Europe and Its Borders: FRONTEX Builds Out its Force

01/23/2020

Clearly, the migration crisis in Europe has generated fundamental pressures for change.

According to Chloe-Alexandra Laird:

“The migration crises, due to its multiple trigger points, should not be considered as only one crisis but as many that intertwine and currently impedes European progress to move forward.

“The major influx of new migrants from the War Torn Middle East and North Africa originating in 2014, has generated a major blow to the evolutionary process of evolving European integration.

“This is an issue that places into question the borders as well as the security and the composition of Europe as a whole.

“With member states significantly differing on what it means to take responsibility for the influx of migrants that are fleeing war torn countries and are seeking asylum in Europe, migration is a problem that will affect the politics as well as the demographic and composition of Europe for the period ahead.

“In 2015 alone, “one and a quarter million refugees applied for asylum in the Union… twice as many as the year before.”1

“The sheer number of immigrants that flooded European shores overwhelmed European policy makers in Brussels. And the gap between what nations wished to do versus how Brussels sought to manage the overall process is a wide one. Brussels was blind to the “gap between what was administratively possible and what was… politically required.”2

One response has been to strengthen the European border agency, FRONTEX.

Interestingly, a recruitment drive launched last October to fill 700 new border guard positions has seen more than 7,000 Europeans apply, many from a retired military background.

Even more interesting is where these applicants are coming from.

Fabrice Leggeri, the head of the Warsaw-based agency, noted that most applicants are coming from the “new” and southern EU states, as well as from the Nordic EU states.

“To a certain extent there is a prevailing trend that applicants come more from let’s say the new member states or some southern member states or member states where salaries, I would not say that they are low but they are not as high in some other old-founding member states.”

According to Nikolaj Nielsen in an article published on January 20, 2020 in the EUObserver:

“The agency has expanded in leaps and bounds over the past few years with larger budgets, more staff, and greater powers to procure its own equipment for things such as aerial surveillance.

“In 2019, its budget stood at €330m. The European Commission wants this to increase to €420.6m for this year, a hike of 34.6 percent.

“It currently has some 750 people working for it, but Leggeri said the money was needed to pay for its new staff.

“Political masters and law makers at the EU institutions, in early 2019, reached an agreement to boost the agency’s mandate in the wake of a wider shift to clamp down on the EU’s external borders.

“That agreement included creating a standing corps of 10,000 guards by 2027 and dovetailed into an agency that primarily saw itself as doing law enforcement work.”

 

Building Out the Fleet with Maritime Remotes and AI: The UK Case

01/22/2020

The US, the UK and Australia are working closely together with regard on developing maritime remote systems to work with and transform their maritime fleets.

Recently, the UK Ministry of Defence announced a new round of funding for their efforts in this area,

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has announced the first wave of £4 million funding.

The funding aims to revolutionise the way warships make decisions and process thousands of strands of intelligence and data by using Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).

Nine projects will share an initial £1 million to develop technology and innovative solutions to overcome increasing ‘information overload’ faced by crews as part of DASA’s Intelligent Ship – The Next Generation competition.

Defence Minister James Heappey said:

“The astonishing pace at which global threats are evolving requires new approaches and fresh-thinking to the way we develop our ideas and technology. The funding will research pioneering projects into how A.I and automation can support our armed forces in their essential day-to-day work.”

Intelligent Ship is focused on inventive approaches for Human-AI and AI-AI teaming for defence platforms – such as warships, aircraft, and land vehicles – in 2040 and beyond.

DASA, on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is looking at how future defence platforms can be designed and optimised to exploit current and future advances in:

  • Automation
  • Autonomy
  • Machine learning
  • Artificial Intelligence

These key areas of research will look to address the complex and constantly evolving threats to national security.

This work will inform requirements then develop applications essential to the future force in an increasingly complex and A.I. driven environment. Although titled Intelligent Ship, a warship is just the prototype demonstrator for this competition – the project will inform development relevant to all defence equipment and military services.

Julia Tagg, technical lead from Dstl, said:

“This DASA competition has the potential to lead the transformation of our defence platforms, leading to a sea change in the relationships between AI and human teams. This will ensure UK defence remains an effective, capable force for good in a rapidly changing technological landscape.

“Crews are already facing information overload with thousands of sources of data, intelligence, and information. By harnessing automation, autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence with the real-life skill and experience of our men and women, we can revolutionise the way future fleets are put together and operate to keep the UK safe.”

The competition, currently backed by a total of £4 million over two phases, has the potential to transform the way the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force equipment platforms are designed, work together, operated and manned by the 2040s.

Innovations developed in phase 1 of the competition could later help determine the different platform types, size and role of future platforms as well potentially being adapted and integrated into the existing fleet.

DASA Delivery Manager Adam Moore said:

DASA brings together the brightest minds in science, industry and academia to turbocharge innovations to keep the UK, as well as those who protect us, safe from emerging and evolving threats to our way of life.

This project will ensure the Royal Navy and all our Armed Forces stays one step ahead of our adversaries.

The graphic is credited to the UK MoD.

Also, see the following:

The Australian Approach to Developing and Deploying Remotes Systems in the Maritime Environment: The Perspective of Cmdr. Paul Hornsby

The Integrated Distributed Force and Maritime Operations

Defeating “Weapons That Wait” With Unmanned Systems

VADM Brown Focuses on Leveraging Maritime Remotes in Building Out the Fleet