UK Gov Pledges £30M to Fast-Track Battlefield Apps
Funding from the Ministry of Defence’s multi-million pound Transformation Fund will be used to accelerate the development of battlefield apps.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced a £30 million boost for the development of agile software.
It is hoped the funding will speed up the deployment of software for the British military and enable the adaption of the cutting-edge technology to be used in extreme environments, such as natural disasters and military operations.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the tech will provide the military with the “warfighting edge” needed to outpace adversaries and combat emerging threats, allowing those on the ground to utilise responsive software that can visualise and automate critical information, specifically tailored to their mission, anywhere in the world.
Supported by Joint Forces Command, the development of this tech will enable defence specialists to create and tailor applications rapidly to meet an operational commander’s requirements, assure its robustness and security, and deploy it on military networks in a matter of days.
The application will be adaptable and able to evolve to meet the needs of the mission as it changes, and thus stay abreast of the demands of the operation.
Initially, the software is expected to provide tools to support decision making and command and control, however, the tech has the potential to be rolled out to other areas such as cyber defence, logistics and medical support.
Commenting on the funding announcement, Williamson said: “From major natural disasters to the frontline on the battlefield, our Armed Forces are quick to react and even quicker to adapt. This technology matches that agility by enabling the creation of specialist digital applications that are tailored, secure and responsive.
“By deploying this technology into the hands of our military, from sailors serving in the Caribbean, to pilots working in the Middle East, we will ensure we have a fighting force fit for the future, equipped with state-of-the-art technology at their fingertips”.
The funding for innovative Application and Software Design swiftly follows Williamson’s earlier announcement of a £66m funding boost for military robotics projects. Technologies such as miniature drones, autonomous vehicles for reconnaissance purposes, and delivering supplies for use in warzones will be developed using this cash injection.
Using remote controls, the tech can be sent ahead of the front line and bear the immediate risk rather than the soldiers.
The government is hoping that some of the projects developed as part of the initiative will be deployed to Estonia, Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of the year.
£31m of the £66m fund has been earmarked to be invested in a fleet of mini-drones that weigh less than 200 grams and will be used to spy on terrorism suspects and monitor battlefields before troops arrive.
An additional £340m may be made available by the end of the year as part of its spending review, according to Williamson.
“This announcement is a clear demonstration of how our Armed Forces are reaping the benefits from our new multi-million Transformation Fund. Each of these new technologies will enhance our Army’s capabilities whilst reducing the risk to our personnel and I’m delighted we will be revolutionising frontline technology by the end of the year,” Williamson said.
“The MOD has always embraced pioneering technology and this fund will ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global military capabilities and ahead of our adversaries,” he added.
The multi-million-pound Transformation Fund aims to fortify the UK’s future defence and warfare, enabling potentially transformative projects to be fast-tracked, making it one of the most digitally transformed parts of the government.