The concept of the Unmanned Air System (UAS), or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), is nothing new nor is their use in missions which traditionally challenge human performance, fragility, and endurance. Ongoing operational experience confirms unmanned systems on their own are not the panacea and trusted autonomy in manned and unmanned teaming arrangements in each environmental domain is emerging as a key operational requirement.
The narrative has progressed the argument for greater numbers of unmanned systems in a far more mature and balanced way than hitherto. The manned-unmanned narrative is now sensibly shifting towards ‘and’, rather than ‘or’. Manned and unmanned teaming leverages the strengths and mitigates the weakness of each platform and concentrates the mind on the important operational aspects, such as imaginative new roles, and the challenges of integration to generate the desired overwhelming firepower.
This capability will require a complex web of advanced data links and communication systems to make it operate as a combat system. Designing and building the ‘kill web’ so that it can enable the delivery of manned-unmanned firepower across domains will be a huge challenge not least due to the laws of physics. However, the ability to train, test, evaluate and validate tactics and procedures will add a whole new level of complexity to generate the ‘trusted autonomy’ required for warfighting.
The aim of the April 2021 conference is to promote discussion about the future implications of autonomous systems. It will investigate potential roles for autonomous systems set within the context of each environmental domain, providing Service Chiefs with an opportunity to present their personal perspective on the effect it will have on their Service.
The conference will also explore the operational aspects of autonomous systems, including command and control and the legal and social implications that affect their employment. And finally the conference will examine the current research agenda and allow industry an opportunity to provide their perspective on recent developments in unmanned air, land, surface and sub-surface combatants
Sir Richard Williams Foundation