Artificial intelligence used by British Army for first time

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used by the British Army for the first time during a live-firing drill in Estonia.

Soldiers from the 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade used an AI engine during Exercise Spring Storm, as part of Operation Cabrit, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

Operation Cabrit is a Nato exercise, which involves British service members working to tighten Euro-Atlantic security, in conjunction with French, Danish and Estonian forces.

During the annual Nato event, the technology was used by soldiers to carry out live-fire drills.

The MoD said the AI technology can be used via the cloud or operate in independent mode.

The engine can rapidly cut through masses of complex data to provide efficient information on the environment and terrain, allowing the Army to plan better.

Major General John Cole, the Army’s director of information, said: “The deployment was a first of its kind for the Army.

“It built on close collaboration between the MoD and industry partners that developed AI specifically designed for the way the Army is trained to operate.

“The lessons this has provided are considerable, not just in terms of our support to deployed forces, but more broadly in how we inform defence’s digital transformation agenda and the best practices we must adopt to integrate and exploit leading-edge technologies.”

The MoD intends to invest £6.6 billion over the next four years in areas such as defence research, AI technology, and cyber and space systems.

The Royal Tank Regiment preparing for a deployment to Estonia for Operation Cabrit (Ministry of Defence and UK Armed Forces/PA)
The Royal Tank Regiment preparing for a deployment to Estonia for Operation Cabrit (Ministry of Defence and UK Armed Forces/PA)

Major James Mcevoy, a member of the 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade and user of the AI, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to use a new and innovative piece of technology in a deployed environment.

“The kit was shown to outperform our expectations and has clear applications for improving our level of analysis and speed at which we conduct our planning.

“I’m greatly looking forward to further opportunities to work with this.

“In future, the UK armed forces will increasingly use AI to predict adversaries’ behaviour, perform reconnaissance and relay real-time intelligence from the battlefield.”

AI has previously been used in several military initiatives, including the Future Combat Air System.