Information warfare in the Royal Navy

Naval Ships Combat Systems Director

At BAE Systems, we’re working with experts from the Royal Navy to explore and develop new technologies that will give a vital advantage to warships and their crews.

With modern warships gathering large amounts of data from a number of sources, the ability for crews to understand and use that data to take action is becoming increasingly difficult. At the Royal Navy’s Information Warrior event in Portsmouth earlier this month, we demonstrated how new BAE Systems technologies can provide vital support in this area.
Information Warrior 2018 sought to improve how decisions are made across the maritime environment, with a particular focus on ships at sea. Information warfare experts from both the Royal Navy and industry used the event to demonstrate ways to cohere future capabilities, including naval combat systems.
As part of a long-term and wide ranging investment programme, we’re already developing new technologies for our naval combat systems that will transform ship operations rooms, improve crews’ situational awareness and decision making, and redefine how crews respond to evolving threats.
Image of Royal Navy operators at work
We believe that our new technologies can be made available in the form of ‘apps’, quickly integrated into the ship’s combat system through an open architecture, synthetic type environment. Integrating apps instead of installing new hardware brings many advantages.
Whilst hardware installation requires ships to be docked and taken out of service for lengthy upgrades, software integration takes a fraction of the time and can be done remotely, allowing ships to stay out at sea where they are needed. Less hardware also means more space on board and a reduction in both power consumption and weight.
Through the use of Shared Infrastructure, the open architecture system that hosts our combat systems, the Royal Navy can see these new capabilities trialled, assured and then deployed over the coming years for both in-service and future platforms.
Information warfare capabilities will be at the heart of our future combat systems and are already shaping the enhancements we are making to our proven systems found across the Royal Navy’s surface fleet.
Our investments and demonstrations show that we are committed to developing systems that will provide navies with enhanced warfighting capabilities, keeping them ahead of the curve and ready to respond to the ever-evolving threats they face.
Our contribution at Information Warrior 2018 focused on information exploitation, artificial intelligence, and intelligent support for the planning and execution of operations, through demonstrations of artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction modernisation and open systems.
At BAE Systems, we’re developing an artificial intelligence concept for combat systems, working with organisations including Manchester University and electronics engineering consultancy Roke, in response to the changing nature of naval warfare and the need for operators to quickly and decisively take action.
In scenarios where rapid decision making is required, increased levels of automation could provide operators with a vital edge and keep warships safe.
We’re also looking into how operators physically interact with our systems. New forms of human computer interfaces, using the latest in augmented reality technology, could provide operators with improved threat awareness.
Finally, Shared Infrastructure hosted our own BAE Systems’ Combat Management System alongside potential new apps. This technology is already in use on Type 23 frigates and is soon to be deployed on Type 45 destroyers and the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
An innovative system solution developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence’s Maritime Combat Systems team, Shared Infrastructure provides ships with an environment to quickly assess, trial and deploy new and emerging capabilities, accelerating their route to operational use.
It was great to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Royal Navy and our industry colleagues at Information Warrior 2018 and demonstrate the potential of existing Ministry of Defence investments in the Royal Navy’s combat systems.
Richard Williams Naval Ships Combat Systems Director 31 May 2018