What Is Multi-Domain Integration?

In order to effectively adapt to the information age, the UK military has been developing Multi-Domain Integration (MDI), a technology that stands to completely revolutionise the way information is collected in battlespaces.

It's a concept designed to fundamentally change the way the military operates, taking it from the industrial to the digital age.

Lieutenant General Robert Magowan, Deputy Commander of Strategic Command, said: "We used to work in the maritime, air and land environments. We're now working in the maritime, air, land, cyber-space and space environments.

"So it's a much more sophisticated way of integrating our effects across a broader operational battlespace."

Unknown soldier at a desk DATE UNKNOWN CREDIT BFBS
The data is fed back from multiple sources on the battlefield for fast processing.

What will MDI mean in practice?

The speed of information sharing is massively increased and alongside that increased volume of data are new, more efficient ways of processing it through artificial intelligence (AI).

In the future, F-35 jets or Tempest unmanned aircraft might beam data down to Royal Navy ships off the coast or long-range artillery systems many miles away.

In turn, these battlefield assets will be communicating with overhead satellites or radar, all while cyber warfare is potentially taking place, perhaps targeting the enemy's internet and social media networks.

AI will sift and interrogate the overwhelming amount of data to make sure commanders only receive the information they need.

Major General Robin Anderton-Brown, Director of Capability and the MDI Change Programme, says the introduction of the technology signals an important shift towards the information age.

"This is moving beyond where defence has been, very focused on platform-centric capabilities, so this... real shift and pivot towards information age capabilities is a really important part of this.

"This is about seizing the advantage right from the outset and it's really at the persistent engagement before we deploy any troops forward."

How will this impact soldiers of the future?

Air Vice Marshal Linc Taylor, Air Command's Chief of Staff Capability, said this change in focus could also affect individual soldiers on the ground.

Watch: How artificial intelligence will shape Tempest's cockpits.

"Artificial intelligence will be able to anticipate the information they are likely to require," he said.

"That will then be on point for when they need it. They will probably be unsighted as to where that comes from.

"If I give an example again, F-35, Typhoon or Tempest, you might have a soldier on the ground directing the sensors from a Tempest system and the crew may never know that that system has just been tasked from a different environment.

"It will be transparent, that will happen, but information at point of need at the speed of relevance," he added.

MDI, according to the commanders, marks a generational change and it's one with a degree of urgency as adversaries like Russia, China and Iran already use political warfare on a large scale, operating in the grey zone below all-out war. 

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