Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has unveiled a new Science and Technology Strategy for the UK.

The strategy was launched with Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean, against a backdrop of futuristic autonomous military kit, from UAVs that can fit in the palm of a hand to crewless all-terrain surveillance vehicles commanded remotely from a Challenger II tank and the new AJAX vehicle demonstrating ‘human machine teaming’ with an unmanned all terrain buggy.

The MoD said in a news release:

“Building on the UK’s rich heritage in science and technology, this new strategy will focus on finding and funding the breakthroughs that will shape the future, and ensure the armed forces are equipped to meet tomorrow’s threats. It will also have a renewed focus on data, including its capture and curation, which will underpin research to identify threat trends and deliver generation-after-next military hardware.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“We are in a very real race with our adversaries for technological advantage. What we do today will lay the groundwork for decades to come. Proliferation of new technologies demands our science and technology is threat driven and better aligned to our needs in the future.”

Professor Dame Angela McLean said:

“We need a clear focus on what we want science and technology to achieve. I will champion a challenge-led approach, based on trends across science, technology and the military, to set out what we need to be able to do in the future and how we can build towards it through our S&T activity.”

Minister for Science Research and Innovation Amanda Solloway said:

 “Placing science and research at the heart of the UK’s defence activity will unleash a new wave of innovation for our brilliant armed forces, equipping them to meet our greatest challenges. By backing our best and brightest scientific minds in every corner of the UK, we will ensure we bolster the security of our nation now and for decades to come.”

The MoD say that the Army Warfighting Experiment series allows the British Army to push the boundaries of technology and military technology, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user while giving invaluable feedback to suppliers.

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peter french

I hope we wont forget the old but true adage that in the end its”Boots on the ground that finally wins”

Steve

The interesting part is there are now loads of land based drones and yet none seem to have entered into service in the UK or really anywhere.

I suspect whilst the tech is interesting on paper, in real world scenarios where radio waves get blocked by buildings/hills/etc or jammed and the combat zone is not a nice easy field to cross and that combined with extra drain on supply chains (batteries/ammo/spares), that they end up being more of a pain than the problem they are proposing to solve.

Ian

Peter……interesting picture, HMG want to lose the tank , any when the mini tank sets off into the distance and falls into a hole , who’s going to go and stand it up again , good on paper but what about in real life…….any one on here with real life experience ?

Daveyb

I can give a brief reply, based on stories from friends operating in Mali with the Estonians. Estonian troops have been operating with the Milrem Themis UGV. It is a tracked vehicle the size of a 6 wheeled supacat. It can operate from a hand held controller, be programmed to follow waypoints, or as the Estonians have been using it, in a follow-me mode. It is being used for carrying ammunition, water, food and bergens only. It does not have a defensive or offensive capability. It is basically a mechanical pack mule. Milrem however, have developed the chassis into something… Read more »

BB85

Professor Dame Angela McLean said: “We need a clear focus on what we want science and technology to achieve. I will champion a challenge-led approach, based on trends across science, technology and the military, to set out what we need to be able to do in the future and how we can build towards it through our S&T activity.” Well you can’t be anymore clear than that. How to sound knowledgeable and driven without saying anything of tangible value at the same time. The UK seems to talk about science and technology while everyone else moves ahead and implements it.… Read more »

Steve

Reduces the man power, but i doubt it has much impact on the risks to the crew, since the lead truck will be the one that is taken out by the IED as it drives over it first.

Most military tech seems to be a solution waiting for a problem to solve, rather than the other way around and why most of it never makes it to the front line.

rfn_weston

I wouldn’t want to dismount rom the lead vehicle under contact and find myself with a load of empty trucks behind me!

You’d need to add self protection systems – remote weapon stations etc – I can see the £££ signs adding up as I type this… Will never make it into the field.

Cheaper to throw a few bod’s at it with individual weapons.

Daniele Mandelli

All well and good, as long as these things actually go BANG and can inflict “kinetic effects” on the enemy. Where are those?

It is like the military is becoming neutered and things that could actually kill or injure the enemy are un PC and best ignored.

T.S

Yes it does seem that way.

rfn_weston

Exactly – As per my reply to Steve above…

You’d need to add self protection systems – remote weapon stations etc… Or risk hijack.

Cheaper to use bods and rifles.

rfn_weston

And ethically more palatable for weaker knee’d of our generation.

Ian Skinner

This is all very well, but where is the money going to come from and we don’t seem to be doing anything to address the Army’s serious deficiencies in fire power.

Steve

I wonder if firepower really is the army’s main problem.

The realistic future for the army is counter insurgency warfare where raw numbers matter way more than fire power.

Even if you take a peer or near peer war, not having the numbers means you can be easily flanked / overwhelmed even with strong fire power.

The government/MOD thinking seems to be to keep throwing money at hardware whilst cutting manpower to pay for it, which is making our armed forces too small to fight any realistic conflict.

4th watch

Still need the capacity to seek out and destroy. Remember fighter ac were developed in the race for and to hold the high ground.

Finney

What SME’s and what products are they offering? None of the drones we have in service or are trialing seem to be British. BAE as usual way off the pace and have no interest in developing any products as “private ventures”, only when they get paid a big lump of cash upfront by HMG.

4th watch

I agree they should be fined from receipts of the current projects for failing to use their initiative and develop things out of their stash of cash.

A. Smith

What amazes me is that the MoD have sat back for years while countries like China, Israel and Turkey have designed, developed and manufacturered capable and affordable drones and done nothing about it.

We need to make up for lost time and the MoD need to announce plans for an indigenous drone program with various classes of drones to replace the Watchkeepers and Reapers. All drones used by the UK armed forces should be UK designed and built.

4th watch

Understand the US have just such a project. Lets hope ours is top secret and based on Salisbury Plane! Cody Boxkite anyone?

AlexS

Institutional bias.
For example Operation Mole Cricket in 1982 already showed what drones could do.

dan

There wouldn’t be a race at least with the Chicoms if the West would just stop them from stealing all their tech secrets.