Navy begins autonomous warfare exercise with AUKUS members

By Anna Macdonald

Tuesday May 17, 2022

Darron Kavanagh
Navy commodore Darron Kavanagh (right). (File photo; Defence)

The Royal Australian Navy has begun to test its uncrewed, robotic and autonomous technologies at Jervis Bay on May 16, as part of Exercise Autonomous Warrior 2022 (AW22). 

The two-week exercise will involve the collaboration of Australia with the UK and the US (AUKUS) to display the capabilities of the forces in scenarios such as mine countermeasures, reconnaissance, and undersea warfare. 

Navy commodore Darron Kavanagh said the exercise would help prepare Australia for increased security threats in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This international maritime Robotics and Autonomous System Operational Experimentation activity will evaluate leading-edge technologies to help us respond to those challenges.

“AW22 is an exciting opportunity to showcase the utility and advantages of uncrewed systems in a variety of warfare domains in collaboration with our allies, partners and industry. It demonstrates our commitment to ongoing collaboration, transformation and adaptation to meet strategic requirements,” Kavanagh said. 

Simulated situations, involving 40 autonomous systems and approximately 300 personnel, will test autonomous vessels, aircraft, and vehicles, as well as command and control technologies.

The exercise’s launch follows the reaffirmed commitment within AUKUS earlier this year to a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

The use of autonomous and robotic technology has been flagged as a priority for all areas of defence, bringing Australia’s armed forces in line with modern warfare. An autonomous truck project was announced last year, described at the time by defence industry minister Melissa Price as vital for meeting future operational challenges. 


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