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September 6, 2019
UK pledges greater use of Artificial Intelligence to repel military threats

UK pledges greater use of Artificial Intelligence to repel military threats

HMS Vigilant submarine prior to a test firing of an unarmed Trident ballistic missile in 2012Image copyright
Ministry of Defence

Greater use will be made of artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies to combat emerging global threats, the government has said.

A £160m fund will be set up to support new military capabilities to tackle space and cyber-threats.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs that AI had a growing role to play in protecting the UK’s submarine fleet.

But Labour said no new money had been earmarked to deal with the “affordability crisis” in procurement.

In a statement to MPs on the Modernising Defence Programme, a £1.8bn initiative launched in January to strengthen the armed forces, Mr Williamson said there would be increased focus on cutting-edge technologies to enable the UK to keep pace with competitors and adversaries.

But he said this would not be at the expense of conventional land, air and sea power, as he insisted there were no plans to cut the UK’s armoury of warships, submarines, armoured vehicles, helicopters and jets.

Artificial intelligence, he said, would be integrated into new programmes as the UK strove to harness its “world-leading array of capabilities” as effectively as possible.

‘Five domains’

In particular, new “Spearhead” programmes would seek to apply modern technologies to sub-surface submarine threats, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and command and control in land operations.

“Our adversaries and competitors are accelerating the development of new capabilities and strategies,” he said.

“We must keep pace and conceive our joint force as consisting of five domains – air, land, sea, cyber and space – rather than the traditional three.”

Mr Williamson said spending on defence was increasing in real terms every year and the total budget would rise to £40bn by 2021.

But shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said the Ministry of Defence’s own figures showed there was an estimated funding gap of between £7bn and £15bn in its defence equipment plan for the next decade.

She said Mr Williamson had to be honest about what programmes would be “deferred, de-scoped or deleted”.

“Either the government must come forward with enough additional funds to fill this gap, something the secretary of state has completely failed to do,” she said.

“Or he must be honest about the difficult choices that have to be made.”

In a recent report, the National Audit Office said 40% of the MoD’s budget would be allocated to equipment over the next 10 years and the plans as they stood were unaffordable.

Source BBC News

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