RUSI–The First Sea Lord's Sea Power Conference 2018

Examining the opportunities and challenges involved in human-machine combat teaming for naval warfare in the future

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locationRUSI Whitehall

The conference addressed the potential for human-machine combat teaming, implications for force design, disinvestment strategies and people from the year 2035.  

The emergence of autonomous and remotely controlled systems as mature weapon systems has taken half a century to arrive, but there are signs that by 2035 such systems will be able to mitigate for scale and mass in warfare.  Adversaries are also harnessing these systems: a democratisation of weapons and sensors seems likely.  

But different states (and their cultures) will have a different approach to the part played by humans within warfare systems of the future.  If the West is to place a warfighter in the driving seat, will this provide the decisive edge in warfare or will it simply slow down decision-making and provide enemies with advantages of pace and tempo?  

Watch the recordings

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at RUSI

First Sea Lord's Closing Speech

Read the First Sea Lord's speech here





  • The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Secretary of State for Defence
  • Admiral Sir Philip Andrew Jones KCB ADC, First Sea Lord, Royal Navy
  • Lord Hague of Richmond, RUSI Chairman
  • Dr Theresa Fallon, CREAS, Brussels
  • Professor Malcolm Chalmers, RUSI Deputy Director-General
  • Admiral Christophe Prazuck, Chief of Staff, French Navy (CEMM)
  • Rear Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, Chief of Royal Norwegian Navy
  • Elisabeth Braw, Control Risks
  • Dr John Hemmings, CSIS and Henry Jackson Society
  • Oleksandr Danylyuk, Center for Defence Reform, Ukraine
  • Dr Martin Murphy, Associate Fellow, RUSI
  • Meia Nouwens, Research Fellow - Chinese Defence Policy and Military Modernisation, IISS

Conference sponsors

  • Airbus

    Silver conference sponsor

  • General Dynamics UK Ltd

    Silver conference sponor

  • Lockheed Marton

    Silver conference sponsor

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