What does the military term FFI mean

(No reason to panic?! Thoughts on the nature of military innovation using the example of underwater autonomy

Summary

Unmanned underwater systems have reached a high technical standard, but are only just beginning to be used by the naval forces. For the broader acceptance of these systems, a better understanding of the operational added value they generate for naval forces is required. For this, a profound examination of the interplay between operational needs, cultural predisposition, organizational framework conditions and technical possibilities is essential.

Abstract

Navies will not use unmanned underwater systems just because they seem technically feasible. More emphasis needs to be put on the operational benefits generated by the use of these systems. This, in turn, requires a holistic understanding of military innovation that results from the interplay between operational needs, cultural predisposition, organizational complexities, and technical progress.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Because there has not yet been a uniform understanding of the term for unmanned systems, this article is based on Paul Scharre and Michael C. Horowitz (2015) and Jai Galliott (2015), based on a graduated approach:

    • A remote-controlled system does not perform any actions on its own. Rather, the surgeon is responsible for every action. Actions relate to the functions of the system (e.g. surfacing, submerging) and the tasks to be performed (e.g. searching the seabed, identifying objects).

    • An automatic system can carry out actions and tasks independently, but the surgeon can monitor both and intervene if necessary in order to correct incorrect actions and / or rectify faults. The degree of independent action of the system results from parameters defined in advance by humans. The system can act automatically within these parameters.

    • After all, an autonomous system can perform actions and tasks that an operator has not specified in advance. An autonomous system could therefore decide for itself how it reacts to a situation.

    On this basis, unmanned underwater vehicles (unmanned underwater vehicles, UUV) between autonomous (autonomous underwater vehicle, AUV) and remote-controlled underwater vehicles (remotely operated underwater vehicle, ROV). In addition, there are so-called gliders, i.e. vehicles that use the ocean current to move, for example. In addition, unmanned surface vehicles (unmanned surface vehicle, UPS) used.

  2. 2.

    Three aspects are of particular importance (Borchert et al. 2016):

    • Environmental and technical features: The environmental framework conditions in the underwater domain differ significantly from all other operational domains. Physical properties such as the salinity of the water, different water temperatures, currents, and the reflection of signals by objects in the water or on the seabed influence the technical requirements. This applies above all to key technology areas such as communication, navigation, location and energy management.

    • Regulatory features: Apart from very specific solutions for regulating underwater traffic between the states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Partnership for Peace, there has so far been no globally established regime. This is what distinguishes underwater traffic from air traffic, which is why the integration of autonomous systems into the underwater domain is subject to different, significantly more flexible framework conditions. A particular challenge, however, arises from the fact that it is still unclear how autonomous systems should be treated in international maritime law.

    • Application-related special features: Undetected action is the core competence of submarines and shapes the management philosophy of underwater forces. Therefore, the delegation of tasks to submarines without permanent monitoring or communication between them and their command units is a common practice. In principle, the management culture of submarine fleets would therefore be well suited to deal with autonomous systems that perform their tasks independently in the sense of mission tactics.

  3. 3.

    Several factors were decisive for the country selection, including the geostrategic role, the importance as an arms exporter and manufacturer of UUV, the experience with submarines and the technology affinity of the armed forces.

  4. 4.

    The Norwegian company Kongsberg took over the US manufacturer Hydroid in 2007 and has been one of the world's leading AUV providers ever since.

  5. 5.

    The breakdown into the five points is tight (congested), confusing (cluttered), networked (connected), fought (contested) and normatively restrictive (constrained) as essential features of the future conflict picture goes back to a work of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center of the British Ministry of Defense (MoD 2010).

  6. 6.

    At this point, concepts refer to the Concepts of Operations (CONOPS), i.e. the specifications for the way in which armed forces are to perform the tasks assigned to them.

  7. 7.

    In the USA there are thoughts about air-transportable UUV (Keller 2014).

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Borchert Consulting & Research AG, Bruchmattstr. 12, 6003, Lucerne, Switzerland

    Dr. Heiko Borchert

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr. Heiko Borchert.

additional information

The author thanks Lutz Feldt, Tim Kraemer, Daniel Mahon and Raimund Wallner for valuable discussions and suggestions on this article.

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Borchert, H. (K) A reason to panic ?! Thoughts on the nature of military innovation using the example of underwater autonomy. Z Foreign security policy9, 375-397 (2016).https://doi.org/10.1007/s12399-016-0575-z

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keywords

  • Military innovation
  • Autonomous systems
  • Underwater warfare
  • Maritime conflict picture

Keywords

  • Military innovation
  • Autonomous systems
  • Undersea warfare
  • Maritime conflict picture