Defense

Royal Navy tests unmanned equipment in operational environment for the first time

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‘Groundbreaking’ trials in Norway saw a collection of unmanned equipment tested in an operational setting for the first time, in a number of milestones for the Royal Navy’s autonomous future.

Exercise Autonomous Advance Force was conducted with support from Royal Marines small boat specialists 47 Commando, the Royal Navy’s amphibious transport dock ship HMS Albion (L14), the Navy’s autonomous accelerator NavyX and the Office for the Chief Technology Officer.

The successful four-day exercise saw these technologies make their debut in an operational setting.

The trials put MAST-13 unmanned surface vehicle (USV), Malloy heavy-lift drone, Puma remotely piloted air system (RPAS) and Remus unmanned sub-surface drone through their paces in the harsh conditions of the Arctic. An artificial intelligence (AI) system to control all of this tech was integrated in HMS Albion, with industry partners welcomed on board to implement and oversee the system trials.

Royal Marines small boat specialists 47 Commando have been in Norway working alongside HMS Albion, the Royal Navy’s autonomous accelerator NavyX and the Office for the Chief Technology Officer to see how the kit could work during operations.

Exercise Autonomous Advance Force put unmanned boat Mast 13, heavy lift drone from Malloy, remotely-piloted air system Puma and the Remus unmanned sub-surface drone through their paces in the harsh conditions of the Arctic.

An artificial intelligence system to control all of this tech was integrated in amphibious ship Albion, with industry partners welcomed on board to implement and oversee the system trials.

It was the first time an unmanned surface vessel has been operated from the dock in HMS Albion and the first time 700X Naval Air Squadron have flown Puma from a Royal Marines landing craft.

Colonel Chris Haw, commanding officer of Plymouth-based 47 Commando, said: “We wanted to operationalize the technology, both in an operational environment and as part of a NATO deployment.

“This exercise also enabled us to also integrate technology as far as possible into a Royal Navy warship.

“Integration of autonomy equipment is a key strand in the development of Future Commando Force and the Littoral Strike concept. The future vision is of this type of system being used to control multiple assets in different domains.

The Autonomous Advance Force trials started last year in Cornwall.

HMS Albion and 47 Commando conduct Exercise Autonomous Advance Force

Naval News Weekly Summary for Mar.02-08, 2020

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