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Royal Navy works with tech giants to embrace innovation at debut event

The Royal Navy worked with tech giants to better embrace technology at an event called Project Stormcloud. Picture: LPhot Lee Blease
Game-changing innovation was on show as the Royal Navy continues its commitment to deliver the latest technology to the frontline of operations.

Guests from across the UK and abroad, including First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key and Defence Attachés from USA, Canada, France, Australia, Japan, India and New Zealand, attended an event dubbed Project Stormcloud, held at 40 Commando’s base in Taunton, Somerset.

The Royal Navy’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) challenged two of the biggest global technology giants, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to demonstrate how industry could bring new, state-of-the-art Cloud-based technology into the hands of the warfighter quicker than ever before.

Chief Technology Officer Brigadier Dan Cheesman said: “We have been challenging industry, we have been challenging big tech, particularly AWS and Microsoft, two of the biggest companies in the world, to show us the way.

“We have been learning by doing, by bringing big tech, small companies and Navy personnel together with other partners across defence to try and embrace technology in a completely revolutionary way.”

The tech giants showcased how Edge Cloud computing could allow new technologies to be incorporated into frontline services, demonstrating how drones, software and cloud technology can enhance missions ranging from warfare operations to humanitarian assistance.

Brig Cheesman added: “The trials undertaken during Stormcloud demonstrated how the Royal Navy continues to adopt new technology more quickly and cost-effectively, mirroring the success of companies like SpaceX.

“We have taken lessons from and worked with industry to make us more able to get after the technology we see in our civilian lives in a better and more coherent way, and to get it to the frontline - to the war fighter.”

We have been learning by doing, by bringing big tech, small companies and Navy personnel together to try and embrace technology in a completely revolutionary way

Brigadier Dan Cheesman

AWS, partnered with more than 20 small and medium enterprises, focused their efforts on showcasing how Edge Cloud technology could incorporate apps, drones, communication systems and cloud software to support the Royal Navy in humanitarian disaster missions.

Meanwhile, Microsoft utilised a different pathway by demonstrating how Edge Cloud technology could be incorporated into a Command Mission System (CMS), allowing the integration of different technology into the CMS to enhance warfighting capabilities.

Stormcloud, with AWS, Microsoft and their range of partners, will progress further over the next year, to incorporate ideas from across Defence and to demonstrate how two of the leading global tech companies can revolutionise how to get technology into the hands of sailors and Royal Marines.

The recent event comes as the Royal Navy continues its commitment to embracing technology and operating at the forefront of innovation. It has collaborated with industry partners to identify what equipment could be adapted for use in Defence and how to accelerate it to the frontline. It has also looked at how to ensure current ships and future classes can be adapted for a range of global operations. 

An example of this is the Royal Navy’s PODS (Persistent Operational Deployment System), which was firstly launched at DSEI by then Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine and was also on show at the Stormcloud event.

Based on the design of a commercial shipping container, NavyPODS bring to life the idea of a ‘plug and play’ warship, enabling adoption of the latest technology as soon as possible, and thereby gain a potentially war-winning advantage.

The Stormcloud and NavyPODS programmes are part of a wider drive to forge a closer, more collaborative relationship with industry and academia.

 

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