Integrating Unmanned and Autonomous Systems into Current and Future Naval Operations

Over 250 delegates came together to analyse the opportunities being presented by the introduction of unmanned systems in the ASW, submarine warfare, ISR, MCM and Underwater Security environments and examine the conceptual challenges which they potentially pose on Day 2 of Underwater Defence & Security 2017 at the Portsmouth Marriott.

Located at the heart of the UK naval industry the main conference was chaired by Rear Admiral Jon Westbrook, Former Chief of Staff NATO MCHQ, Royal Navy.

During the meeting there was unanimous agreement between Industry and naval delegates that there are opportunities to be exploited in developing and integrating remote, unmanned and autonomous systems into naval defence and security operations.

There is however, a pervading uncertainty regarding availability of funding for new procurement against the requirement to maintain and support legacy systems.

Industry delegates agreed that while industry has been willing, to some extent, to take a risk on developing demonstrators and support exercise activities there is sense that a real commitment to take the next step is required to ensure this continued support.

The requirement for the management of data on a massively increased scale: development of CONOPS for the integration of multiple and remote vehicles and systems and the regulatory ethical issues surrounding the use of remote, unmanned and autonomous systems were regular themes which occurred during the presentations.

Rear Admiral Westbrook, speaking at the end of the day, commented:

There needs to be a meeting of minds. A better way of defining requirement by capability and or desired operational effect, via a platform centric approach, needs to be jointly developed. This would be a major benefit and possibly be the catalyst for acknowledging alternative or imaginative opportunities. It is a disappointing position if industry doesn’t believe it isn’t being stretched from a technological perspective by the customer.

The final day of Underwater Defence and Security 2017 takes place tomorrow.

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