Another significant step towards delivering Unmanned Warrior was taken this week as the Royal Navy hosted the event’s Main Planning Conference in Gosport. Momentum has been building over the last year as the Navy, alongside over 40 organisations from defence, industry and academia, have been working to deliver possibly the largest unmanned systems event of its kind ever undertaken. Participants range from the very small to multinational, with systems ranging from off the shelf mature solutions to the highly conceptual and relatively unproven.
Unmanned Warrior demonstrates innovation and shines a spotlight on British industry as the Navy looks to understand how unmanned systems might deliver future maritime capabilities. Commander Peter Pipkin, the Fleet Robotics Officer, told conference delegates, “We have made great progress, Unmanned Warrior is well set and it is going to blaze a path for others to follow. From conception through to delivery, we’re doing many things for the first time or very differently to how they might have been done traditionally.” A good example is the plan to overlay the demonstration of unmanned systems onto the Joint Warrior exercise scenario to set a more challenging environment for the participants and allow the Navy to see first-hand how some of the systems and sensors could integrate into current and future operations.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said “The growing scale of Unmanned Warrior is a clear demonstration of the Royal Navy’s ambition to lead and win through technological innovation. Unmanned maritime systems will change how we operate, but they’re just the start. Our pursuit of new technologies and ideas – from big data to 3D-printing – will ensure we remain one of the most capable and successful navies in the world.”
Taking place this Autumn, Unmanned Warrior will see over 50 vehicles, sensors and systems operating in a number of themed activities in the MOD exercise areas based around Scotland and in West Wales. Commander Pipkin added, “We are deliberately trying to keep the scope of activity as broad as possible; there are few, if any, constraints on what participants have offered to demonstrate. If it’s unmanned and it can fly, float or swim then we are working hard to find a way of incorporating it into the programme.” For Unmanned Warrior, the systems taking part are focussed on delivering the platforms, sensors and data required to give the future Navy its advantage; none of them will be weaponised.
One of the most significant areas of progress this week has been the commitment of a number of Unmanned Warrior participants to the event’s commercial framework agreement. Given the varied and challenging demonstrations, the self-funded basis of many of the contributions and the large number of participants, this commitment is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the innovative approach the Defence Equipment and Support team has taken in supporting Unmanned Warrior.
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