Royal Navy test artificial intelligence against supersonic missile threats off Scots coast – The Sun

THE NAVY has tested artificial intelligence against supersonic missile threats for the first time at sea as it ushers in a new age of autonomous defence.

The live-fire drill test of the state-of-the-art fleet’s naval air and AI missile defence capabilities has been playing out off Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and Norway’s Arctic coast this week.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) say the Royal Navy trial is part of Nato’s Exercise Formidable Shield, which runs until June 3.

HMS Dragon leads the group equipped as a dedicated air defence destroyer designed to shield other vessels with her Sea Viper missile system.

Using her Sampson radar – the spinning ‘spiked egg’ atop her main mast – the Portsmouth-based warship has the ability to detect and follow a missile’s progress from launch to ‘splash’ when it is destroyed.

The research is being led by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) scientists – with the AI also being tested on frigate HMS Lancaster and Argyll.

The ships all have capability to destroy missile threats travelling an mindblowing 12,000mph – 16 times the speed of sound.

They can also knock out sea-skimming drones simulating missiles, weaving at high sub-sonic speeds in a bid to outfox the radars tracking them.

The MoD said the AI improves the early detection of lethal threats and gives Commanders rapid assessments.

The trial is testing two AI systems, Startle and Sycoiea. The first provides live alerts to sailors monitoring the air for threats and latter identifies the threat to advise on the best weaponry and manoeuvres.

HMS Lancaster’s Weapon Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander Adam Leveridge said: “Observing Startle and Sycoiea augment the human warfighter in real time against a live supersonic missile threat was truly impressive – a glimpse into our highly-autonomous future.”

In one crucial test HMS Dragon’s Sea Viper missiles are tested to intercept a Firejet target drone, racing over the Atlantic at more than 400mph but just 20ft above the waves.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “It’s vital that our brave and highly skilled armed forces stay ahead of the game for the security of the United Kingdom and our allies.

“The Royal Navy’s use of AI for the first time at sea is an important development in ensuring readiness to tackle threats we may face.

The AI-based applications are also being tested to ensure they work alongside existing radar and combat management systems.

DSTL’s programme manager Alasdair Gilchrist said: “DSTL has invested heavily in the systems that are installed at the moment, but it’s imperative that we continue to invest to make sure that the Royal Navy remains relevant now and in the future.

“Being able to bring AI onto the ships is a massive achievement, and while we can prove the AI works in the labs, actually getting Navy personnel hands-on is brilliant.”

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