Portsmouth research hub's £10m boost paves the way for AI systems on future Royal Navy warships

PORTSMOUTH'S reputation as a key hub of maritime warfare innovation was solidified as a £10m upgrade was revealed for one of the area's critical military research centres.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 13th April 2018, 7:00 am
A £10m upgrade has been announced for the Maritime Integration and Support Centre on Portsdown Hill
A £10m upgrade has been announced for the Maritime Integration and Support Centre on Portsdown Hill

Defence giant BAE Systems is pumping in the funding to its Maritime Integration and Support Centre (MISC) on Portsdown Hill.

The cash windfall will be key in unlocking new warfare tech for the Royal Navy – including artificial intelligence which could one day be integrated into the UK’s future fleet.

A source at BAE told The News the funding would help ‘enhance’ the facilities at the MISC and would continue to make the Royal Navy one of the globe’s elite fighting forces.

‘This investment will enhance the support we provide to warships, adding new and improved facilities and capabilities that are unique’ the insider said. ‘It is cutting-edge, there is nothing else like it anywhere else in the UK providing this level of support to the Royal Navy and its essential combat and mission systems.

‘From this facility in Portsmouth, our highly-skilled engineers will be helping to keep the Royal Navy ready on the front line.’

Shaped like a Type 45 destroyer, the MISC replicates real-life ship conditions using the same combat system technology found across the Senior Service’s surface fleet.

It is a key asset when it comes to testing new state-of-the-art warfare kit and integrating into the navy.

BAE’s funding, announced yesterday, will help research new tech such as artificial intelligence, information and electronic warfare, unmanned vehicles and new weapons.

The MISC will benefit from new facilities including a hi-tech visualisation suite able to display live tactical data from any Royal Navy warship anywhere in the world.

The technology will provide BAE Systems’ Naval Combat Systems Integration Support Services 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 MISC 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.’

Between 2009 and 2017, the MISC helped to remote install mission-critical systems into Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth while she was being built in Scotland.

A similar process will take place for sister ship HMS Prince of Wales this year while in July, tests will begin for combat system equipment on the navy’s new Type 26 frigates.