The MoD Science and Technology Strategy 2020 has been released, setting out how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will secure and maintain scientific and technological advantage for the future.
A selection of equipment on display at the Army Warfare Experiment 2020.
In this time of unprecedented change, Science and technology (S&T) are developing and proliferating faster than ever before and have become a new domain of international competition. New adversaries have emerged, alongside traditional threats, who actively undermine our democracy and society, supported by substantial and rapidly modernising militaries. Terrorist groups and non-state actors can access technologies and weapons far more sophisticated than before. The natural environment is challenging us with a global pandemic and we have reached the tipping point where decisive action on climate change is required.
The MoD Science and Technology Strategy 2020 sets out how MoD will secure and maintain scientific and technological advantage in future:
By prioritising investment to focus on the long term and adopting a challenge-led approach, defence aims to anticipate and shape new technologies and applications of technology, and to build the expertise, policies, and military concepts needed to take advantage of them as soon as they are ready
MoD will balance this challenge-led approach with a technology push to pursue promising technology or scientific disciplines which offer significant potential to allow them to be integrated into military capability as they mature. MoD will look to collaborate widely but effectively, sharing the effort and sharing knowledge where it in the UK’s interest to do so
Extracting greatest value and impact from defence research also means effectively curating and using the data generated: sharing it appropriately, developing understanding from it and exploiting it to inform decisions faster than adversaries and competitors
The strategy was launched by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean, against a backdrop of futuristic autonomous military kit: from UAVs that can fit in the palm of a hand to crewless all-terrain surveillance vehicles commanded remotely from a Challenger II tank and the new AJAX vehicle demonstrating ‘human machine teaming’ with an unmanned all terrain buggy. The pair visited Salisbury Plain ahead of the Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE), which this week will showcase some of the latest British-built military technologies.
Building on the UK’s rich heritage in science and technology, this new strategy will focus on finding and funding the breakthroughs that will shape the future and ensure the armed forces are equipped to meet tomorrow’s threats. It will also have a renewed focus on data, including capture and curation, which will underpin research to identify threat trends and deliver generation-after-next military hardware.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "We are in a very real race with our adversaries for technological advantage. What we do today will lay the groundwork for decades to come. Proliferation of new technologies demands our science and technology is threat driven and better aligned to our needs in the future.
Professor Dame Angela McLean said: "We need a clear focus on what we want science and technology to achieve. I will champion a challenge-led approach, based on trends across science, technology and the military, to set out what we need to be able to do in the future and how we can build towards it through our S&T activity.
"In an uncertain and rapidly-changing world, we can’t afford to be always on the back foot, fighting the latest challenge. This strategy sets out how I intend defence will get ahead of the game and start actively shaping the future."
Minister for Science Research and Innovation Amanda Solloway said: "Placing science and research at the heart of the UK’s defence activity will unleash a new wave of innovation for our brilliant armed forces, equipping them to meet our greatest challenges. By backing our best and brightest scientific minds in every corner of the UK, we will ensure we bolster the security of our nation now and for decades to come."
The Army Warfighting Experiment series allows the British Army to push the boundaries of technology and military technology, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user while giving invaluable feedback to suppliers. This is all done to ensure that British troops maintain a continuous advantage over adversaries on the battlefield of today and tomorrow.
This complements the ongoing Integrated Review of foreign, defence, development and security policy. The Strategy & Technology will also be central to the government’s ambition for the UK to cement its status as a world leading science superpower, set out in its ambitious Research & Development Roadmap in July this year (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-research-and-development-roadmap/uk-research-and-development-roadmap
To read the full MoD Science and Technology Strategy 2020, click