BAE Systems investing in AI, electronic warfare research

UK defense contractor BAE Systems has announced a £10 million (approx. $14.2m) investment into upgrades of the Maritime Integration & Support Centre (MISC) aimed at improving research into artificial intelligence, information and electronic warfare, unmanned vehicles and new weapons.

Located in Portsmouth, the MISC is a specialist facility providing vital support for Royal Navy warships whilst researching future combat systems and technologies.

The facility accurately replicates real-life ship conditions using the same combat system technology found across the Royal Navy’s surface fleet – including systems used to track threats, co-ordinate weapons and manage on-deck aircraft movements.

New facilities that the MISC will benefit from include a visualisation suite capable of displaying live tactical data from any Royal Navy warship anywhere in the world, further enhancing warship support. The technology will provide BAE Systems’ Naval Combat Systems Integration Support Services (NCSISS) engineers with all the information they need to keep ships battle ready and support them in their deployments.

Richard Williams, BAE Systems Naval Ships Combat Systems director, said: “The Maritime Integration & Support Centre is a vital facility for ensuring combat systems equipment aboard the Royal Navy’s fleet remains at peak operational performance, and allows us to continue our work on the combat systems of the future. Our investment will ensure the MISC will build on the success it has enjoyed since opening in 2004 and help us understand how new technologies can be introduced to keep navies safe.”

The visualisation suite adds to existing MISC technology such as the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier integration facility. Between 2009 and 2017, whilst HMS Queen Elizabeth was under construction nearly 500 miles away in Rosyth, the MISC remotely supported installation of its mission-critical systems. Supported by navigation simulations, the ship’s crew was able to plan the platform’s historic first entry into Portsmouth last August.

The MISC will remotely integrate the HMS Prince of Wales combat system throughout 2018, whilst in July testing will begin on combat system equipment for the Royal Navy’s new City class Type 26 Global Combat Ships. The first ship in class, Glasgow, is under construction at BAE Systems’ facilities on the Clyde.