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Naval Domain Intelligence Discusses Capability Integration and Collaboration

Naval Domain Intelligence, chaired by Commodore (Retd) Ian McGhie, Former Deputy Director Intelligence Capability, Strategy and Policy, Royal Navy and supported by NATO CMRE, began with a series of presentations by senior Navy leaders discussing the technological innovations required to ensure Navies can dominate the modern technological era and take control of the Naval battlespace.

In his role as Chairman, Commodore McGhie set a direction of travel for the conference centred on capability integration, assisting our leaders to make better-informed decisions, and being pragmatic when it comes to accepting that price point will always be a key driver, as will getting capabilities to market at pace.

It seemed entirely appropriate that Commodore David Burton RN (Rtd), Strategy Director at NATO’s CMRE, should be the first presenter. His theme majored on collaboration, which was more important than ever in an environment of unprecedented levels of transformational change.

In delivering his points, Commodore Burton was keen to stress the importance of getting collaboration with industry partners right. He highlighted where delegates (and their parent organisations/entities) might best engage in doing business with NATO. This included a discussion on Requirements capture, a theme that was revisited several times, and which dominated the day.

The consensus was that Defence does this well in pockets, but overall could do better. There are constructs to take improvements in this key area forward, but we should be imaginative and bold, with the utility of OPEX getting a specific mention.

Doug Yankovich, Head of BD at Leonardo DRS Airborne and Intelligence Systems, was next on the floor, presenting on the transition between Link 11 and Link 22 communications systems. It was pleasing to note that, as it becomes a legacy system, Link 11 will be treated sympathetically as Link 22 gains in-service traction. Link 22 offers greater automation and speed, and appears very user friendly.

Commander Simon Waterfield RN, SO1 Development at the RN’s IW Division, next exposed to delegates the exciting INFORMATION WARRIOR Exercise, an initiative personally championed by 1SL. In the context of the Future Force Concept, Simon highlighted the key elements of Information, Society and Topography. Watchwords for this exercise include agility, being ‘fast to fail’ if required, and the importance of partnerships with the Defence industry.

Francesco Solzi (GM) and Bo Millevik (Senior EMC Specialist) at Roxtec gave a fascinating snapshot of multi-cable transits for EMP and IEME protection. Clearly at the cutting edge of their industry (and in multiple business domains), Roxtec could show proof of their high-fidelity products, that clearly backed up their assertions.

Next to present was Dr Kevin Le Page, Programme Manager for Collaborative ASW at CMRE, on utilising unmanned systems in ASW to gain information superiority. He eloquently outlined how CMRE is tackling the ASW challenge, in meeting NATO’s level of ambition. Importantly, this theme is to be tackled head-on and in more detail at CMRE’s HQ on Thursday. One of Kevin’s main points is that the key is to choose the right solution with the right mission set.

After lunch Captain Stefano Calvetti, Head of Intelligence on the Italian Navy’s General Staff, gave an accomplished canter through how best to manoeuvre within the EMS. Highlighting the facets of this complex problem, he clearly articulated the conflicting demands in play within this pivotal arena, ahead of exposing that the answers lie in the pillars of technology, operations, doctrine and training.

The ELINT/RESM BD Manager of Rohde and Schwarz, Andrew Owen, talked about the EW challenge in the modern radar systems operating environment. In general terms, he claimed that EW technology lags radar design by circa a decade, before offering a viable way ahead (a fully digital system, incorporated state of the art technology and components, hardware and software developed in parallel, automation and accepting that ‘bandwidth is King’).

Andrew Cunningham, the Executive Director of Innovation at the UK Defence Solutions Centre, talked to delegates about the Defence Growth Partnership, highlighting several projects in educating us all. He emphasised that the focus should be on the customer in trying to develop UK capability to improve the value of our investment (including via companies not traditionally engaged in the Defence sector).

Dr Joao Alves, Principle Scientist and Project Leader for UW Communications at CMRE, gave valuable insight to the CMRE flagship Project JANUS. It is the first digital UW comms standard, and offers proven capability – via OPEX DYNAMIC MONARCH 2017 – in offering massive advances in reducing transmission times.

Presenting next was Commander ‘Bungy’ Williams RN (Rtd), Hydroid’s Regional Manager in Europe. He treated delegates to an impressive resume of the AUVs his company offers, including the ability to launch a UAV from an AUV!

The final session of the day was left to Dr Yi Yue, Counsellor Defence S&T in the Australian High Commission in London, representing Australian Defence S&T in the UK., Europe and the NATO S&T Organisation.

It was fascinating to hear her interpretation of Australia as an enhanced opportunity partner in NATO’s S&T space. Covering the RAN’s Plan MERCATOR, she exposed the fundamental changes for the RAN over the next 20 years. Whilst the NATO and Australian geographic and geopolitical situations are different in many ways, it was interesting to note that these entities are developing similar Maritime capabilities.

That was the end of an invigorating day. Chairman Commodore McGhie concluded the session summarising the main take-always; collaboration cannot be under-estimated; we simply must capture requirements better than we currently do; ‘capability’ needs to be delivered to the market quicker; utility is key; and innovation must lead to tangible capability delivery.