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UK Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE)

The Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) is the British Army’s live trial of emerging military technologies and tools – bringing together industry and military experts to test new technology and improve Army capability.

“The Army Warfighting Experiment has been and remains the flagship experimentation programme for the British Army. Through AWE the Army will forge relationships with industry, academia, allies, and partners, and also message our allies and adversaries that the British Army will adapt for the future with cutting-edge technological advances.”

AWE20, conducted on the British Army’s training area on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, during October 2020, focused on technologies in the agile command, control and communication space. The goal was to help the Army identify how it can best increase awareness of battlefield surroundings, improve communications on the move, deploy more effectively and increase survival in combat.

In today’s data rich digital age, it’s becoming increasingly important for systems in the battlespace to not only complement one another but also to be able to seamlessly integrate and share live data feeds – this “information advantage” enables troops at all levels to be able to make informed decisions based on real-time data.

The event was split into two parts. The first section involved live experimentation, followed by a series of visits from senior military decision-makers.

The Army Warfighting Experiment: The Urban Series 2022-24 focuses on warfighting in the urban environment, preparing the Army for future conflict in an increasingly urbanised world. It is designed to align experimentation to the tactical functions, developing each focus area year-on-year until integrating them all during a final experiment. This will provide the evidence to inform the Army and Defence which capabilities must be invested in and developed for the Army to remain competitive on the global stage.

The Army Warfighting Experiment Urban Series 2022-2024 is a Capability Investigation within a threat-based tactical scenario. It will employ live, virtual, and constructive methods to produce evidence which: de-risks major equipment programmes; enhances relationships with industry, partners, and allies; and accelerates Army modernisation and transformation.

 

Purpose

The Urban Series will conduct experimentation focused on the urban environment to optimize the Army for Urban Operations, incorporating dawning technologies into brigade, battle-group, and sub-echelon capabilities.

The Army Warfighting Experiment: The Urban Series 2022-24 will see a collaboration of the Army with subject matter experts to experiment with cutting and bleeding-edge technologies, focusing on how the Army can be optimised for future complex urban environments.

By taking a programmatic approach to the Army Warfighting Experiment to build upon each year’s feature events between 2022 and 2024, the Army will remain engaged with SMEs and industry throughout to build and strengthen relationships as well as enable iterative development of products through pre-defined exploitation pathways.

Throughout, the Army will collaborate with international allies and partners, achieve value for money and transform itself it to become more sustainable.

 

AIM

Through the most demanding and hypothesis-based experimentation, the Urban Series will demonstrate the future force requirements that contribute to the Integrated Review in 2025 by:

  • Defining the digital ‘backbone’ which will underpin the future force, its systems and its sensors ability to communicate effectively.
  • Bringing sustainment and protection to the forefront to reduce risk to the force and increase mission success.
  • Leveraging cutting and bleeding-edge technology from industry to fight the urban battle.
  • Demonstrating that all systems can be integrated effectively across all domains to reduce risk to our people, increase the tempo of decision-making and increase the mass of the desired effect.

 

November 2022: AWE Sustain & Protect will examine how we sustain and protect a Brigade (and below) force in the urban environment. Sustain will focus on intelligent logistics, medical extraction and vehicle extraction, whereas Protect will focus on physical and non-physical protection, to include cUAS and cCEMA. In addition, this experiment will focus on our people to determine how we can accomplish the best by them and achieve operational advantage.

Autumn 2023: AWE Shape & Defend will examine how we shape our allies, actors, adversaries and enemies, and defend in the urban environment. Shape will focus on information and outreach activities, whilst Defend will focus on organic physical and non-physical offensive capabilities, as well as precision strike. In addition, this experiment will also consider counter-electronic warfare, people and power.

Autumn 2024: AWE Urban Integrate is the culmination of the series, during which D Futures will take forward the ‘best of best’ technology from the series in a capability demonstrator.

 

Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) Sustain and Protect

The purpose of Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) Sustain and Protect is to identify current, emerging and novel technologies from industry partners to inform current and future equipment programmes and encourage closer collaboration across government, allies, partners and industry to make the Army more lethal, agile, resilient and persistent. AWE gets these technologies into the hands of the user and provides the opportunity to develop sufficient evidence to:

  • de-risk major concept and equipment programmes – by identifying and assessing candidate systems, informing future requirements and investment decisions
  • enhance relationships with industry, partners and allies – through engagement, cooperation and burden-sharing where appropriate
  • accelerate Army transformation – by focussed hypotheses, integrating related technology and further exploiting through spiral development and concept capability demonstrators

 

AWE Sustain and Protect will focus on the following hypotheses, which will be further refined in due course into detailed experimental activity. Applications must link to one of the following hypotheses:

Sustainment 1. If Urban CSS elements have the means to autonomously forecast consumption rates, then stores can be disseminated before they become needed to increase mass.

Sustainment 2. If Urban Equipment Support Specialists have the means to autonomously predict component failure, then parts can be replaced before a failure occurs to increase mass.

Sustainment 3. If Urban Medical Specialists have the ability to autonomously identify, and treat or extract, casualties before their combat effectiveness is adversely affected then operational output can be maintained to ensure tempo and mass.

Sustainment 4. If Urban Equipment Support Specialists have the ability to identify and autonomously recover stricken equipment then they can remain protected to increase mass.

Sustainment 5. If Urban FEs have the organic means to generate, store, manage and distribute electrical power then they will be able to sustain their own electrical power requirements to increase tempo and mass.

 

Protection 1. If Urban Commanders have the ability to create physical obstacles then they will be able to control Freedom of Movement in the Urban environment to increase tempo and mass.

Protection 2. If Urban FE have the ability to autonomously or remotely breach urban barriers, rapidly and repeatedly, then they can increase freedom of movement and protection to increase tempo and mass.

Protection 3. If Urban FEs have the ability to conceal their own physical and non-physical (EMS and Cyber) signatures, then they will improve their survivability to increase mass.

Protection 4. If urban FE have the ability to accurately map the urban environment, including sub-terranean zones, then they will improve IPE and increase situational understanding to increase tempo.

Protection 5. If Urban FEs have autonomous means to FIND emplaced threats, then they will have increased freedom of movement to increase tempo.

Personnel 1. If personnel have their performance optimised (cognitive, physical, psychological and social) then they will be capable of performing at a higher standard to increase operational advantage.

Personnel 2. If Urban Commanders have better intelligence regarding the physical and mental capacity of their work force, then they will be more able to resource missions and tasks to increase operational advantage.

 

Army Warfighting Experiment Sustain and Protect exercise

Experts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have played a key role in supporting the Army Warfighting Experiment Sustain and Protect exercise at His Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth. Dstl scientists from a wide range of specialisms including sensing, platform survivability, human science, autonomy and power deployed to operate and assess a variety of technologies such as novel robotics and data fusion.

The Portsmouth exercise is part of the second phase in the AWE Urban series which focuses on how the Army can sustain and protect a Brigade (and below) force in the urban environment through the utilisation of intelligent logistics, novel medical extraction and autonomous vehicle extraction.

It also aims to assess the implementation of physical and non-physical barriers which encompass counter-uncrewed air systems (C-UAS) and counter-cyber and electromagnetic activities (C-CEMA) to ensure automated platforms are survivable on the modern battlefield from around 2030.

Dstl experts were involved in the down selection of the 159 systems originally submitted by industry against Army Warfighting Experiment Sustain and Protect specific hypotheses. Throughout the process more than 20 Dstl staff worked closely to support QinetiQ, DE&S and Army Trials and Development units (TDUs) in their assessments of systems.

Ultimately, approximately 20 technologies progressed to the final stage, the integrated experimentation assessment, at Portsmouth Naval Base in November 2022. In this simulated live fire event, troops from 2 YORKS and 3 PARA, as well as allied partners from elements of the Dutch Army’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Unit and the US Army Experimentation Force used the industry technologies in representative platoon level force-on-force urban scenarios.

Staff observed the use of these technologies in the activities, providing feedback to military suppliers and AWE organisers, helping guide the development of future capabilities for Army use in for urban operations.

Lt Col Arthur Dawe, Commanding Officer, Infantry Trials and Development Unit, said:

Dstl is constantly seeking to improve the effectiveness of the UK’s armed forces by identifying and assessing novel technologies. These new technologies will offer operational advantage in a number of areas, such as improved sensing to identify and track adversaries, or through increasing the speed and compatibility of data, enabling commanders to make faster and more impactful decisions.

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dstl-tests-new-technology-at-army-warfighting-experiment

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