Incoming Missiles Don’t Stand a Chance Against Royal Navy Ships’ New AI System

The Royal Navy marks another significant moment in its history, as artificial intelligence is tested at sea, against live missiles, for the first time. There’s no doubt that AI and machine learning are becoming a big part of what the future of warfare looks like.
HMS Lancaster, Dragon and Argyll are participating in Formidable Shield and testing the new AI software 5 photos
Photo: Royal Navy
HMS Dragon crew members in the operations roomHMS Dragon (center), HMS Argyll and HMS LancasterHMS Dragon, Lancaster and ArgyllHMS Lancaster
Startle and Sycoiea sound like space-mission names, but they are actually some of the latest AI technologies developed for the Royal Navy, by the British government’s defense laboratory Dstl, in collaboration with Roke, CGI and BAE Systems, as industry partners.

As its name sort of suggests, Startle is designed to provide real-time recommendations and alerts, in order to help the crew in the operations room of a warship, when monitoring the “air picture”.

Then, the Sycoiea system (which is the most important representative of the automated Platform and Force Threat Evaluation Weapon assignment) takes it to the next level, by helping the team to detect incoming missiles much faster. Plus, it suggests the best weapon that should be used against them. And all of this cuts down on the time that it would take human operators to perform similar tasks.

This next-generation software is being tested throughout the Formidable Shield NATO exercise, which will be unfolding until the beginning of June, off the coasts of Scotland and Norway. Since the main focus of the exercise is to test warships’ ability to destroy various types of missiles, from ballistic to the supersonic, sea-skimming ones, it was the perfect platform for also testing this AI technology for the first time.

Royal Navy’s HMS Dragon destroyer, plus the Lancaster and Argyll frigates were the ships that got to try these cutting-edge software applications. According to Navy officials and crew members, it was exciting to see how the AI works in real time, against live missile threats, proving that it’s one of the most important assets for warships.

With Startle and Sycoiea AI on one hand, and the Sea Ceptor air defence missile, plus the Artisan Radar of the Argyll, on the other hand, the Royal Navy is getting ready for a high-tech future.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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