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IAV 2022: British Army to launch RAS competitions this year

The British Army intends to hold a competition in April to determine the integrator for its Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) programme, according to a service spokesperson.

Speaking at the International Armoured Vehicle 2022 conference in London, they added that the army will also hold a competition to determine who will run the ‘data service' for the programme.

Fundamentally, the army envisages RAS generating an operational advantage for land forces through human-machine teaming (HMT). This will be achieved by offering mass and tempo whilst reducing risk.

The integration team will be vital to facilitate the HMT project; they will be tasked with integrating data, networks, software, hardware, personnel, original equipment manufacturers, and frontline commands effectively.

The army's objective, the spokesperson stated, would be to have an enhanced RAS light brigade combat team by 2025. By 2030 it plans for a fully integrated RAS deep recce strike brigade combat team and, by 2035, to have RAS integrated widely across the division.

The current research and experimentation stage is set to end in 2024–25. The next phase would require scaling up the programme, which would necessitate further funding.

It was stressed that access to digital skills and understanding data algorithms is an integral element to enabling HMT. Despite this, the army is “bereft” of people who have knowledge in these areas.

The UK Defence Command Paper, published in March 2021, noted that developing RAS would be an important part of transformation and modernisation efforts.

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