Future soldier £10m UK Ministry of Defence

Invested in cutting- edge equipment for the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment as part of the TommyWorks programme.

Quicker, better and more decisive Instrumental to the technology and capability pipeline are the annual Army Warfighting Experiments (AWE), which put ideas and kit through their paces before the TommyWorks team matures development ahead of fielding with active units. Speaking at the same conference, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Locke, commanding officer in the Infantry Trials and Development Unit – the dismounted close combat focus for trials, capability investigations and experimentation – said several main priorities are guiding how the army intends to fight over the coming decades. They include robotic and autonomous systems; battlefield power and electrification; and AI and machine learning in conjunction with network sensors, effectors and urban operations. The AWEs see army units, industry partners and academia gather to explore novel approaches to fighting that satisfy these priorities. Such collaborations are “a sign of the future cohesion necessary if we’re to keep the British Army ahead in technology-led operations,” said Locke. Past AWEs have highlighted the need to understand the cognitive burden on soldiers working with robots, and the creation and exploitation of secure networks. “This year, we’ll be looking at human skills, machine learning [and] enabled mission rehearsal, so really pulling together technology processes and people,” said Locke. “Together, this will enable the army to think, decide and act quicker, better and more decisively.” AWE21 – dubbed ‘Exercise Dynamic Warrior’ – will also have a heavy emphasis on data. In particular, it will focus on insights that can shape training decisions, and provide guidance on collecting, analysing and synthesising training data.

Locke said various challenges have been issued to the industry to help better understand and manage this so-called ‘synthetic wrap’, or electronic training

environment. “Is it through augmented reality? Is it through some sort of virtual platform or immersion? Urban training? How can we get more from the urban systems and facilities that we’ve got at the moment?” he asks. “How can we bring that back into the unit? Can it be done through augmented reality? Can it be done through temporary structures? Complex human terrain is going to be so vital as we move into complex urban environments, so how can we draw on open- source material to create a synthetic environment?” AWE20 saw the creation of a deployable secure digital data network that linked more than 100 sensors, communication systems and platforms. Locke described it as a “digital backbone” for the integration, exercising and investigation of multiple industry platforms and services. “This was a real first for army experimentation and this digital backbone – or ‘MANNA’ as it’s being called – will now endure for future AWEs,” he said. But AWEs do not simply inform the TommyWorks team about the effectiveness of equipment – they also shape logistics and operational ideas. “What we are interested in understanding are the changes to currently held doctrinal and tactical norms, and how transformative the systems are to the way that we operate,” said Locke. “So, we’ll confirm the capability, but it’s in the hands of the users [in terms of] how they’re going to really change the way they operate – and that for us is the real gem here.” It’s vital that the army keeps evolving. “We must become more dynamic, we must become more agile, and we must become more dispersed,” he said. One further piece of the jigsaw will provide the real ‘golden thread’ – connectivity. “We must be able to connect all these systems and draw data rapidly in order to make quick decisions and changes,” Locke said. He described the AWE format as an original

An X2 unmanned ground vehicle on display at a capabilities demonstration at AWE20, with a

Challenger 2 main battle tank in the background.

50 Defence & Security Systems International /

UK Ministry of Defence

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