Britain's first sea lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones has said the Royal Navy will employ the latest in consumer tech, with capabilities like Siri-like voice controls and possibly augmented reality integrated into future warships.
Speaking at the opening of the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition (DSEI 2017) — one of the biggest arms fairs in the world — in London, Jones said the Navy wants to embrace the speed at which new technologies are transforming warfare.
He cited the new Type-31e frigates, which are scheduled to replace retiring HMS Argyll in 2023, as an example of the integration of IT with a multitude of tasks such as, running the ship, offshore logistics, and weaponry improvements.
"What this means in practice is that the Type 31e will feature different app-based tools which can access the ship's data. These will be operated from a series of touchscreen displays, Siri-style voice-controlled assistants and perhaps even augmented reality technology," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
"This is not a gimmick or a fad. As modern warfare becomes ever faster, and ever more data driven, our greatest asset will be the ability to cut through the deluge of information to think and act decisively."
Jones did not elaborate on how the technologies would be deployed but added that the changes would transform the traditional face of the navy. "This requires big decisions, with far reaching consequences".
The arms fair, held at the ExCel centre in London's docklands, saw some 1,600 exhibitors showcasing a slew of state-of-the-art equipment including advanced weaponry, security devices, protective clothing, armoured carriers, drones and motorbike-mounted rifles.
Despite protests against the promotion of military hardware, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox stressed the importance of the defence sector for the UK economy on the opening day of the event. "We are clear that the success of this industry is the United Kingdom's success and that our position as a global leader in defence and security exports is something that should be celebrated," Fox said. Last year, the defence industry contributed an annual turnover of as much as £35bn ($46bn) for the country.