UDS 2017 Aviation Focus Day: Ensuring an interoperable and standardised response

The Underwater Defence & Security 2017 Aviation focus day, chaired by Commodore Jock Alexander OBE MA FRAeS RN (Retd), Former Assistance Director Carrier Strike & Aviation, Royal Navy, took delegates through a fascinating technology journey from the past to the future via the present day.

The meeting discussed how maritime aircraft, both rotary and fixed-wing, will increase the ASW mission and range, and the interoperability with unmanned and/or autonomous systems. Indeed delegates discussed interoperability must become less of an ambition and more of a reality as we go forward with ever decreasing defence budgets.

Several speakers emphasized that replacement of capability (eg ASW) is key to future procurement projects, but that many governments still view platform replacement as the way ahead; this will not wash as we enter an era of combined manned/un-manned warfare theatres where there will likely be a combination of assets ensuring the same/better capability.

Indeed the meeting heard from Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad, Commander Patrol & Reconnaissance Group, US Navy who has shared some of the challenges faced with the Increment 3 on P-8, which is designed to have high level persistent capability but in fact the Navy is struggling to get it to the aircrew fast enough. The Admiral is also currently trying to regenerate ASW skills after having experienced a generation of operators focussed on land ops.

Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad

There was a clear frustration displayed within the audience about the inertia of national procurement schemes, largely driven by increasing pressure of defence budgets against a perceived drop in threat. The For example, Rear Admiral Cozad further elaborated the US Navy have invested heavily in Boeing test facilities to reduce maintenance spend, and approximately 70% of training is simulation to avoid unnecessary stress to aircraft.

Captain William Perkins USN, Maritime Air Section Head, NATO Joint Air Power Competence Centre revealed within his address to the delegates that NATO should pursue a common replacement MPA in the next 10 years as several countries come to the end of life of their current systems and the ASW Doctrine must evolve for the 21st century to include autonomous/unmanned systems

Captain Perkins continued the theme of interoperability, where ASW C2 as it evolves must remain inter-operable and of course each NATO country should strive for full inter-operability.

Conference chair Commodore Alexander summarised some key thoughts as delegates left for the day.

Technology will drive change and Industry can help with that by producing innovative solutions for known problems in areas such as un-manned/autonomous systems, robotics and nano-technology and bionic solutions such as coatings that absorb or reflect energy. Inter-operability remains more pertinent than ever as technology revolutionises the battle-field however we must not become complacent. We must recognise, from a political perspective, the maritime threat posed now from Russia and the evolving threat from China.”

Delegates will be returning for the full two-day programme tomorrow. You can view the full agenda here.


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