Air Commander John Haly of the Royal Australian Air Force Air hosts Krystle J. Carr, senior director, autonomous aviation and technology, Boeing defense, Space, and Security; Tony Bacarella, vice president of advanced programs, Elbit Systems of America; and Chris Pehrson, vice president for special programs, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, for a discussion of “Unmanned and Autonomous Systems” at the AFA Warfare Symposium on March 3, 2022. This transcript is made possible through the sponsorship of JobsOhio.
Air Commander John Haly: Hello, everyone, my name is John Haly. If you aren’t planning on hearing anything about unmanned systems, you’ve come to the wrong place. But welcome. Thanks for coming and interest in the next 40 minutes. We just saw briefly the names on the board, but I’d like you to welcome Krystle Carr, the Senior Director for Autonomous Aviation and Technology from the Boeing Company. We also have Tony Bacarella, the Vice President for Advanced Systems from Elbit America. And Chris Pehrson, the Vice President for Special Programs from General Atomics, who are here today. So thanks very much. And we’re going to leap right into it with a handful of questions. So looking forward to what they have to say.
Air Forces across the world have been refining concepts and requirements for autonomous systems for some time, and we’re seeing them used more and more. We know that autonomous systems can lead to cost savings. It can lead to better use of our workforce across our air forces, and services across the joint force.
And I think importantly, and it was touched on this morning in a bunch of the discussions particularly by COMPACAF and COMACC. The use of these systems as a way to have force preservation and importantly, to look after the women and men that otherwise would be in harm’s way if it wasn’t for the use of these systems.
So with that as a little bit of a scene setter, let’s go straight into the questions. I’m going to I’m going to ask first, Chris, to talk to us so I just as I just said, the proliferation of these unmanned autonomous systems, you know, brings with a greater roles and advancements, but they’re clearly implications in what and how we do things we structured ourselves within the domain with our plans and with C2 [command and control]. That was based on what we knew of aviation, right. And it was based on the way we knew air forces fly, fight and win. So can I get you first, Chris to talk to us about what you think the implications are for us with what we have otherwise known as our approach to things like mission command, commander’s intent, rules of engagement, or even centralized command decentralized execution concepts that we think we’re comfortable with, but may need to [unintelligible]?
Pehrson: Great. Thank you, John. Good afternoon, everyone. That’s a complex question. Forty minutes is not going to do it justice. But briefly, just to set context, General Atomics is kind of synonymous with unmanned systems. We’ve been in the business for about 30 years that we’ve delivered 1,000 platforms and 7 million flight hours. So quite a bit of pedigree there.
In the early days, you mentioned automation, and it was more about increasing the productivity of the efficient efficiency of the pilot. Things like automated checklists, automated takeoff and landing, very deterministic decision trees that would follow with automation, but that’s more evolved into an autonomy where the airplane is actually sensing the environment, reacting to the environment non-deterministically and making decisions—mission command decisions—following commander’s intent, but doing it with its own decision making logic.
I think key to the question is trust. We have to build trust that a loyal wingman with a fighter or type of aircraft, first of all, is not going to have a mid-air collision, that it’s going to be able to do the mission that you’re tasking it to do and do it reliably. And then have the mission assurance built into the system. As you’re managing the air battle, you’re guaranteed that it’s going to be able to perform mission.
That’s going to start with things like maybe adversary air or target drones, just flying in close proximity to manned aircraft or other unmanned aircraft. But eventually it’s going to evolve into a fully autonomous system where you’re going to give it a mission, and that’s going to go out and prosecute that mission. You’re going to have high success and high confidence that it’s going to get the job done, and then come back to do it again the next day.
The unmanned systems—they talk about different groups and give us group one to group five males, the hails, that’s kind of an artificial taxonomy. It should be really driven by mission capability, the mission you’re trying to perform. I think unmanned systems are going to be integral to the force because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to cost effectively have the qualitative advantage that we need to bring to the fight.
We want Dorito chips, these really exquisite platforms, but as much as we can afford, we’re just going to get the snack pack of Doritos. We need the family size bag of potato chips, not just a few exquisite breaking places in case of glass.
So I think that unmanned systems are going to be integral to the daily ops tempo of everything that we do. And it’s going to be an extension of the pilot or the battle managers, situational awareness, you’re going to provide that disaggregated sensing, you’re gonna have defense in depth because you can put unmanned systems at risk and put them closer to the fight. You can have a breadth of awareness because you’re expanding your sensor grid and your sensor web. And actually the new mode melt modalities for sensors are going to require unmanned systems because it’s not going to be a single monolithic platform with one sensor onboard. It’s going to be a disaggregated network. And they’re all going to be feeding data with precision timing and precision communications and just really bringing all that together for a shared situational awareness and in a true combat web net centric warfare, you know, these concepts we’ve talked about, theoretically for years are finally coming to reality. And trust again, trust is the foundation we have to build trust that it’s not going to put our own crews in danger, but it’s also had trust that it’s going to perform the mission may assign it Thank you.
Haly: Thanks. So in the concept and of integrating these things together, I think, in the best case, right? We all go out in our flight shops around the world and through the different [unintelligible] and we come with these elaborate for structure plans that have this beautiful system-of-systems kind of approach to it and it all gets put together. But in reality as we come together as different services different nations we form coalitions. We get into the joint force where we’re more likely to find ourselves with a force structure within a coalition. That’s a bit of an odd coupling of marriages of different bits of equipment from different OEMs or coming together to try and work for common purpose. So I guess, Tony, could you talk to us about what you see as what can be done to ease those sorts of integration things both in advance of needing to and in the worst case, as we cobbled together coalition’s such as we see in flashpoints around the world potentially agreed.
Tony Bacarella: Absolutely. Elbit Systems of America [is] heavily focused on the artificial intelligence side of the UAV-UAS area and mainly we focused on how do you deal with trading these APIs. That’s going to be when you think about every interest service and really quite intra-country. The reality is there’s so many different mission sets, so many different platform requirements, so many different ways to deal with teaming, that training the AI is going to be one of the biggest challenges we run into. So creating a modular approach that allows fast and rapid training so that you can have the competence the trust that Chris was talking about a little while ago is going to be pivotal to making these all making this work and especially talk about going across the boundaries that you just discussed. We have to come up with a modular approach that allows you to go into a synthetic environment to get the training on these multiple missions and the different environments that every one of these nations sees. And these inter forces see and how do we go create that confidence by creating a synthetic environment that does that? So we’ve done that and we think that’s an important part of this is to have the AI be trainable and the synthetic environment and drop the operator and the team and the command structure to that so that you can go permutate it over and over again so you can get the confidence required to deal with these things—both inter-force and inter-nation.
Haly: So just to follow on from that, so if we’re training the AI in a synthetic environment ideally ahead of its use, how sensitive then are we to essentially being trained down an ideal case, which is not fit for purpose when we actually cobble together a coalition and find ourselves in something that where the enemy has a vote and it doesn’t go according to our plans or expectations?
Bacarella: If I understand the question, if I don’t just please clarify the question … the way we look at it is you nailed it. The corner cases are going to kill you. Okay. You come in and you train for something very specific. They do something just a little bit crazy at you. You don’t know how to react to it. Your AI does not react. Your team doesn’t know how to react to it. So creating the synthetic environment that allows you to run those permutations and the processing capability to do that right now in a training environment or are constrained as we go towards quantum computing, etc. That allows us to go do these permutations and run them over and over and over again, so that your command structure gets vetted. Your artificial intelligence algorithm algorithms get better. How do you do your teaming gets vetted and it’s pivotal to being able to get the trust and the confidence that’s required to move out from that.
Daly: In fact, it sort of goes back to what we were talking about there because we then also need to circle back and start training those who set or expect certain rules of engagement, operational seats, who the way that we intend to command these forces when they’re presented to the component commands.
Bacarella: Just one quick comment: Autonomy is not a one size fits all. There’s platform autonomy, there’s multi-ship autonomy, and your small-package formation. Then there’s also the mission autonomy, the wider perspective of all the assets working together systems and systems.
Daly: Great. So Krystle, let’s talk about digital engineering, because not only is there the sort of training of AI components, but there’s also essentially the testing elements as well as well as I guess, adapting. So how do you think digital engineering is? Well, could you first start by telling us how it’s being applied, I suppose in this sort of autonomous systems market, and how it’s helping, you know, ultimately us as your customers to be better prepared to win that fight using these sorts of systems.
Krystle J. Carr: Right, thanks for the question. And I think that you’ve layered on very well all the different pieces of what makes autonomous systems work. So it’s really important that as we have these autonomous systems, part of what makes them great is that they are when you look in the mission context, you’re willing to let them go. And so they have a different kind of way you would train way you would employ them, way you would maintain them, all of that. And so if you’re going to have this kind of capability that you don’t necessarily want to want to keep for a long time.
It needs to be an efficient and affordable price and Secretary Kendall spoke this morning about loyalty means being at least half the price of whatever it is that they’re protecting. And I think that’s fair. I still wonder if that’s even a little bit more expensive than where we really want to be.
And so Boeing is doing it taking great strides in digital engineering, and from multiple programs we are implementing it and where we’re going with it is being able to have the digital twin [unintelligible] from the moment you put a bolt on an airplane to the moment you retire it out of the service. So having a full set of information that is at your fingertips to be able to understand to learn quickly.
And therefore, therefore you’re reducing. You’re reducing the amount of testing that has to be done you’re reducing the number of hours and spent doing just the engineering pieces of it the cycle of trying something fail-fast, becomes a lot more affordable when you’re when you can do most of the testing in a virtual environment.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t ever bend metal it doesn’t mean that you don’t go fly and test your prototypes to make sure that what you’re seeing in the digital environment is real. But you can do a lot more digitally first. And so we’re doing this not just in the autonomous systems market.
So we’ve got the T-7 program that is fully digital. XL UUV is in our autonomous systems bucket and that’s our better underwater vehicle. Air Power Teaming System, which is my baby in particular, is fully digital, and as well as in [MT?] 25. And what we’re seeing we saw both on T-7 and Air Power Teaming System with using these digital tools, we’re able to get from concept to first flight in 36 months on both.
So that to me that shows repeatability. And where your Power Team system is concerned it is a much smaller vehicle than any of the fighters or other vehicles that it might protect. And we can put a wing together and about a day and it’s all digital. We’re using our full size determinant assembly which is reduces all of the manufacturing time. The touch labor goes away. And then because it’s so simply produced, it’s easy to go and maintain and repair in the field and that is exactly what we’re looking for. So we have kind of started to test the what does it take to put a vehicle together that’s already been produced in not knowing what the learning curve was going to be. We assume that it would take about seven days to do that. Wel,l with mechanics that hadn’t seen the instructions before they were able to put an airplane together in two days. And we expect those types to continue to go down as we train and we learn more about the airplane. So by using the digital tools, you’re able to get things done a lot faster, which really for the warfighter means that we are going to be able to acquire that capability to employ it much faster than we would have with traditional engineering methods.
Daly: So just for the record, I’m clearly as the stupidest person on this topic on this on this stage, so I’m gonna I’m not lead the witness with any of these questions. But are the regulators, are the bureaucrats’ acquisition processes—are they keeping up and giving enough credit to the what the benefits of digital engineering can bring? Or are we essentially holding ourselves back from realizing all those types of benefits because we are prepared to trust in the magic just yet?
Carr: I think it’s a journey and we’re on that journey together. We have those conversations about is this really real. So being able to show the production line being able to show the product and let people touch it and see how it comes apart or how it is put together and then go and kind of look at the digital twin and see how everything that was predicted is as measured. I think those are the important conversations that we have to continue to have but it is on us to continue to perform and show the benefit so that the services will be more likely to trust and believe that this is real.
Haly: Yeah, right. So I think that same sort of journey, it’d be fair to say that we’re also on that just broadly with autonomy, writ large.
Chris, could I get you to to expand a little bit on probably the fundamental differences that exist between air vehicle autonomy versus mission autonomy that you were talking about before? And where you think we in uniform, or we across government, need to catch up or need to grow and learn to meet the opportunities?
Pherson: Sure. So I think foundational to the autonomy is going to be an open mission system configuration to open architecture between the different platforms, not only heterogeneous, different types of platforms manned, unmanned, but also on the platform itself. And we’ve flown our Avenger with both the Code and the Odin autonomy court system as part of the skyward program. And in order to enable those to fly we also have what we call an open OFP.
So there’s a there’s a flight safety boundary basically. So the checks and balances on flight safety are with our open OFP core flight management system onboard the aircraft. But because of the open systems architecture and the OMS messaging and such we can communicate with the autonomy engines that are actually giving us the flight behaviors.
So if we’re given a say, a bounding box of airspace to stay within, that’s being commanded by the Odin or Code software, but the open OFP is actually providing the checks and balances to make sure the aircraft behaves in a safety of flight manner.
At mission level autonomy, this is more like your more non-deterministic reaction to the threat environment if you have a stare threat pop up or adversary air, this is dynamically sensing the environment and then in a collaborative manner, autonomously reacting to it. So I’d say that [unintelligible] autonomy is keeping the aircraft in a safe box that’s telling him to search out this way and look for adversary air. Once that’s detected, the mission autonomy has to take over now has to be able to command the constellation of aircraft to reposition themselves to get the right firing solution, the right targeting tracking solution, whatever it may be, and work more of a system of systems approach to the autonomy.
One is different behaviors, I guess, different characteristics, but it’s all about the intent of what you expect and want the platform to do. So from the friendly side it’s acting predictably have that trust that it’s going to do the mission. But from the adversary side, it’s going to have enough dynamism in the in the force presentation to defeat the adversary basically.
Haly: Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s, you know, we’re talking about mission sets. That are so varied, that this technology will help with. We spoke this morning, we heard COMACC talking in particular about things like, you know, defensive static bases, where mobility is not available and what autonomy can do there, all the way through to the high end warfighting things that we were touching on a second ago.
Tony, talk to us a little bit about what, what Elbit is doing to kind of position themselves across that sort of range of mission goals so that we can have the future we deserve for this.
Bacarella: So at Elbit Systems America, we’ve really focused as I said before, on the artificial intelligence side of it and all the all the ecosystem that surrounds us so that you can go through this and synthetic embedment into that. But that’s one aspect that we’ve invested in as well.
We see that there’s a huge need to go to new power sources, and they’re investing heavily in new power sources so that we can get the ranges required for new mission sets where we’ve obviously been invested. I think a lot of you are maybe familiar, maybe not, but our EW [electronic warfare\ capability sets are very strong and so we put a lot of focus. The RFC can destroy, the EOC can destroy—methodologies, the mesh networking for teaming.
All of that comes together into a comprehensive capability set that we are able to modularly put in place in different areas. So we’ve created subsets for the EW side that can go out into the RF, the EO, the AI all separately, so that they’re modular, and they’re open so that people can utilize them in different mission sets.
And then we take all those and we can go validate those through our synthetic environment as well. So that’s the heaviest area that we’ve gone in focused.
We’ve also put a lot of time and effort into airframe development for the different mission sets as well. But we see we see things really focusing on modularity more than anything else, and then being able to validate that through a model based system. So those two things in concert I think are going to cross the line too.
We talked about going you know, across different forces, across different missions, and then, working with our partners in other countries, your area they were talking about just a moment ago, I think it’s gonna be critical. When you’ve got a digital embodiment, you’re gonna be able to go take that now and Australia will have a different mission set in some ways or another. And once you’ve got that digital platform, you can go validate that.
The same thing happens with the AI in the synthetic environment. Now you can go validate the platform, and go validate the AI algorithm you want, you can validate the target and make sure that you’ve got a 3D vision of that, that you can go permutate and validate that you’re gonna hit the corner case as we talked about earlier. So those are all the key areas that we’ve really focused on.
Daly: Okay, thanks. Krystle, we’ll get on to one of one of our favorite topics in Australia. I’d like to talk about the or give you the opportunity primarily to talk about the airpower teaming system that Boeing is bringing forward. So can you talk about that in a context not just of what we hope it to be, but both the opportunities as well as the challenges associated with that, and in the manned, unmanned teaming kind of concept.
Carr: I think, to get to man-to-man teaming, so we’ve done between industry and the government studies over the years on what the capability gaps are, and it showed that [unintelligible] wing men in certain spaces make a lot of sense. And so the opportunity that that our company took was to employ the engineering team in Australia to go and figure it out. … The threat is all of our threat. The threat is in Australia’s backyard.
And so there’s there was a different sense of urgency when we started that program on going and making that happen quickly. So part of going and making things happen quickly also does present some challenges. So there are things that then become inherent and a design that you’ve got to go back and figure out how do I advance that at design to make it more operationally relevant for the long term?
And so those are the some of the challenges that we’re working through.
But the way that we’ve set up our program is that there are kind of generational cycles for design. And because it is digital, we have more of an opportunity in a short timeframe to cycle in new technologies, kind of like Tony was talking about, where if I’ve got the digital environment, what I can do is, this subsystem is important here, but maybe I want to go do a different mission. How will that integrate into the system? Where’s the right the best right place for it? How can I and then go and validate that.
I think that that’s really important. And then the way that we are doing things is we’re setting up the right production line, The platform itself is modular, which gives us the ability to move quickly continue to move forward and even be able to retrofit things that we need to on previous platforms.
And so I just I think we have a lot of freedom to go and do that. I’m really excited to see its scale. So right now we’re still in the theory phase, we’ve got kind of low rate, let’s kind of catch up, let’s put stuff together. But scaling to an actual at-rate production line, I think, is the thing that I’m most excited about on that program. And really any of our new development programs that are focused in the digital world because being able to prove out that these things can work is going to be where we get the best bang for our buck. As you know, coalition nations, right? We’ve got the challenges ahead of us. And I think making sure that we don’t get lost in just the technology advancement and we continue to remember why this matters is what’s going to help us to make sure we’re doing things safely, efficiently, simply providing the right capability that warfighters can trust. Because is about the trust and autonomy.
But what we want to make sure is as we get these, we darken the skies with the loyal wingman. What they’re not doing is creating other challenges for the pilots. The pilots need to be able to focus on their particular mission—not be worried about whether or not the other plane next to them is doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The ideal situation is that a pilot sees a loyal wingman on their radar and goes,: That’s mine and I know that it’s going to do exactly what I want it to.”
But I will say that the other challenge there then is making sure that as we trust we also do question because if there is for any reason there’s been tampering, something has been taken over, we want to be able to respond quickly to that too. So challenges on the warfighting side as well as challenges on the scaling side, but I’m really excited to see where it goes.
Daly: Great. What about the challenge of integrating these types of capabilities and perhaps you might all contribute to this. Again to you, Krystle, when you’re having to integrate it with manned systems from different manufacturers or different generations of aircraft, potentially different pedigrees, and I guess concepts.
Carr: I think that gets back to the open systems architecture, but open systems architecture across the entire fighting force. Being able to have interoperable platforms. It’s why all of the efforts that have been going on around making sure that things can talk to each other and that there’s not vendor lock is critical to our success. And if we don’t do that, if we kind of sit in our silos and continue to say, “Well, if you layer on these 15 other things, then it can talk to the other platforms.”
I think we all have to accept that none of us have all of the solutions that are going to meet the needs. And so we’ve got to figure out how to work together and having that just open systems architecture, I think is the way.
Bacarella: I totally agree. It’s really hard to do a one size fits all right. It’s virtually impossible. So having an open systems architecture is going to be important there. But there’s always going to be the puzzle that has to that piece that’s going to have to change to make that work. I don’t know I don’t think there’s a lightning bolt that can come in and fix that regrettably. And how you work as a company with companies together to go overcome that I think it’s going to be critical. The whole point of that digital architecture, like you were talking about before, would be great if that was transitioned to the platforms as well. So that we were also taking when you go to bring a new platform in every one of the platforms that’s existing, had the ability to go be a digital model as well. You know, that’s the one best thing I could see going forward that would have a big impact, although I haven’t seen it.
Pherson: I think the digital … modeling and simulation is so critical to that interoperability and integration. I think autonomous systems will breathe new life into fourth generation assets. It’s going to enhance the relevance of your rivet joints and your AWACS and the legacy systems we have today. But augmenting them initially, providing them greater sensor range, greater coverage, greater situational awareness and eventually probably superseding them. Disaggregated network of unmanned or collaborative systems is the future to survivability and resilience that we need in the future fight. But if you have high fidelity models for things like AP SIM or the war games that we’re playing, that’s how you experiment and test these out. Air Force and industry, we think, we’re narrowing down on the right solutions, but we still don’t know yet. We’re still defining the problem set I think. But eventually as we invest dollars and resources and commit to something we’re going to drive down to a point solution. We better be at the right point solution when we do.
Daly: Great. I’d like to give you I guess each the opportunity to talk about how your respective companies are positioning yourselves. Some of that we’ve already touched on a little bit but probably the I guess to package it and wrap it because we have companies that are in very different areas of what’s a broad church have this sort of capability. And I think more importantly, I’d love to hear what you’re most excited about for the next five years or so, about showing to the world and developing. I’ll start with Krystle.
Carr: Okay, let’s see. So, going autonomous systems is positioning itself in a number of ways. We’re starting with the kind of that digital thread, so our purpose or desire is to have digitally advanced simply inefficiently produced products so that as needs are come to bear we’re able to meet those needs and with the autonomous market, I think things move fast. I don’t think there is a one size fits all for any solution, but the quicker we can move to provide any kind of capability to fit each of those different use cases or gaps is really important. And I think that that’s one of the ways that we are positioning ourselves.
In addition, in the autonomous division, we’ve got products that connect from seabed to space. So we’ve got the extra large undersea vehicle. We’ve got MT-25. We’ve got we’ve got a parent teaming system. We’ve got even Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider. All of these things … can either help connect and can help be forward and saying be able to just be in different pieces of the greater fight. That’s what we’re doing and how we’re positioning, and it’s really about speed and it’s about being a force multiplier and giving the warfighter the ability to go focus it on high value to asset and targets. And so for me, still very excited about how we’re going to continue to move forward, being able to move fast. And for me, in particular, seeing airpower teaming systems scale to the greatness that it could be. I know we’re laying the groundwork for that now and so that is those are the things that keep me going every day.
Pherson: The future is exciting. Yeah, we’ve been very successful with the permissive persistent MQ-9 family—the Reaper, the Gray Eagle, the Predator. Probably so successful that we’re identified as the poster child for that counterinsurgency fight. We’re breaking out of that paradigm. You know, the MQ-9 is going to be bread and butter for the company for quite a while it was going to stay relevant. It’s repurposing and reinventing itself for the great power competition, whether that’s in a maritime role. I think there’s a great potential in the maritime arena with antisubmarine warfare and surface search. We’re repurposing it for standoff SIGINT and electronic warfare capabilities. That’s proving itself today and in the real world.
But I think what’s really exciting now is some of these projects we’ve been working on for decades, investing in the technology the human capital, we have a [unintelligible] facility now to do more of the sort of survivability type work that started over a decade ago when we started U class. And we’re bringing some of these to fruition. You probably just saw the announcement for Gambit [unintelligible] will be assessed platform today. You know, these systems that previously where we worked as a single ground station with a single aircraft on a single target is kind of a stovepipe, in the theater, doing its mission and very tight with the Special Operations and ground forces.
Now we’re taking that persistence and reliability and affordability to the air domain with defensive counter air and base defense and really getting that MTI situation awareness in a persistent affordable way to the wider fight. And that requires integration, the collaboration, the autonomy. So like Gambit, that platform, we have a next gen one called MK-9 replacement because the mechanics can be around but something that can persist in a less permissive environment and do what the MQ-9 does today for ISR and precision strike. It is very exciting for us in the future.
Bacarella: At Elbit Systems America, we’ve already talked about how many times the AI side of things, the synthetic side of things, is a big part of this. But we as a company have everything from the platform down to all the sub modules to do [unintelligible] capability set.
We don’t look at it like we want to go out and be just the total platform solution guide. We think that the future really comes down to there’s going to be a bunch of different solutions and a bunch of different areas that are going to need tools from every company to make a successful route forward and being highly modular and having that model-based capability so that you can integrate easily across the different companies is critical.
And so we have brought a range of solutions that they range from all the way across the spectrum, to be able to go provide those into the different solution providers out there and look to work with those as we have in the past. But in addition to that, I think that you know, going back to the AI side of things for just a moment, the 4-D world synthetic environment capability that we built is not to be understated. It’s is a multispectral capability so that you can model any target or any environment like a real world condition and then emulate and simulate the actual sensor that you want to use in a given environment and do it in any permutation that you want.
And it goes back to this validation in this trust and digital environment that we talked about. It’s all really all hitting on the same centered focus of how do we go make an AI system actually be trusted and utilized in the field. And so we’ve really focused on that and created an environment that’s going to help validate that. I think that’s the thing that we bring that’s different and compelling into the market space right now. We have all the building blocks for everything else and obviously love to collaborate with everybody and continue to do that in the other areas. But that’s the thing. I think this is most compelling.
Daly: Great, thank you. And then I guess, to pass comment from a government perspective. It’s really clear the opportunities that we have in front of us but the challenges I think, you know, they’ve been touched on today and they can’t be understated and, and it’s they’re not new challenges. The challenge of how do we integrate systems that were designed for different domains so that they can work or design for different nations or designed around different requirements? Those are, those are challenges that we see in so many of the other elements of what we do as we build our forces in whichever nation you’re in.
We will always—us, me as an Australian—with the United States, with all of our friends and partners around the world, we will always sound like we have an accent when we talk to each other. But if we can build the systems that don’t have a digital accent, when they talk to each other, then we give ourselves the preconditions for the interoperability and the interchangeability that fundamentally we need if we’re going to meet the challenge of our day. And so, I think, where we’re concerned that vendor lock between companies within the same nation, within the same industrial base, may prevent integration that problem is just as large if not larger, when we talk about what we do together.
And in a fundamental mathematical sense, the United States has about 330 million people. The United States has treaty allies together. Just the treaty allies have 1.3 billion people—excluding your population.
So there’s a lot of people in the world who are bound by treaty to share the same ideals, the same values and to defend the same things, if we are provided the capacity to make a meaningful difference and stand side by side and do so together.
And so, insofar as we need to have open architecture for the things that we build, as we develop this technology, we need to have an open architecture in our relational approach to each other, as we all prepare to meet the challenge and ideally do that in a way that doesn’t bring populations into the line of fire.
So that’s my that’s my soapbox discussion, which launches from what we’re just talking about. We’re going to take a couple of minute early mark before we do that, let me first say, as has been said in many of the sessions this morning, in lieu of speaking gifts. AFA instead diverted that into opportunities for more guardians and more airmen to join us this afternoon for the barbecue. So that’s wonderful. And if you could all join me in thanking these guys and importantly, the representatives of General Atomics Assistance of America and the Boeing Company for the contribution today and in what is a challenging field, but certainly the start of something that I think will be unquestionably a part of the Future Force of tomorrow. So thanks very much.