Britain’s Royal Navy Examines AI to Counter Missile Attacks

The Royal Navy of Great Britain is testing the accuracy and effectiveness of artificial intelligence (AI) to repel missile attacks at sea for the first time. State-of-the-art software tests were conducted against supersonic, ballistic, and cruise missiles during the largest exercise of its kind off the coast of Scotland and Norway, the Navy said.

A glimpse into the future of naval air defense, the pilot is part of NATO’s Formidable Shield exercise and includes three British warships: the destroyer HMS Dragon and two frigates HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll.

The test, led by scientists at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), will test two artificial intelligence applications: Startle and Sycoiea, the Royal Navy said in a statement to its official online news outlet.

The Startle app provides real-time advice and alerts for sailors who monitor the “aerial image” of the operating room. It is designed to help “lighten the load” for sailors. And Sycoiea relies on these alerts to help sailors identify the threat and recommend the best weapon to deal with “even the most experienced operator” quickly.

During the test, sailor Sean Brooks aboard the HMS Lancaster said he was impressed with the state-of-the-art software. “I was able to identify missile threats faster than normal and even fool the operating room,” he said.

Experiments with artificial intelligence have been conducted before, but this is the first time the system has been tested against live missiles, said Lt. Commander Adam Leveridge, a Lancaster weapons engineer. “A look into our highly autonomous future.”

The Navy is testing these AI-based applications to harmonize response and seek needed improvements to ensure they work alongside existing radar and other systems.

Lancaster Commander Will Blackett said the magnitude of the naval exercise and the resources and technology involved made it an extremely beneficial experience for all.

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