Using connected RAS to provide operational advantage to UK Defence.

Connected Robotic Autonomous Systems across multi domains can provide operational advantage to UK Defence

MDIS is a capability investigation into how connected Robotic Autonomous Systems might provide operational advantage to UK Defence in the 2030 epoch, reporting to Future Capability Innovation and informing the Integrated Review 2025.

Background and requirement

Multi Domain Integrated Systems (MDIS) is a 4-year capability investigation and acceleration programme mandated to change the way Defence fights and to deliver capability faster (using bespoke procurement models and adopting a streamlined approach to approvals). The project is funded by the Defence Innovation Unit and delivered by Future Capability Innovation (FCI) within DE&S. It looks at how connecting Robotic Autonomous Systems across domains might have an impact on Operational Advantage in terms of Freedom of Access and Manoeuvre.

TP Group’s Operational Analysis workstream was tasked with answering five Master Questions relating to MDIS:
1. Which representative scenarios would it be applied against?
2. What operational advantages could an MDIS-enabled force provide in the 2030 epoch?
3. What system elements and enablers does the capability require?
4. What are the cost implications of implementing MDIS?
5. What future developments to elements in an MDIS system would create the greatest benefit?


Key to the task was understanding the likely future capabilities of the Robotic Autonomous Systems (RAS) which would comprise MDIS.   
TP Group researched new advances in autonomous systems through “Horizon Scanning” and Tech Watch. They conducted focussed interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) and engaged industry providers to learn about current commercial developments in MDI RAS.

TP Group’s analytical approach was to work with members of the appropriate military services to formulate Use Cases portraying the five domains during which UK Defence would be deployed. Staff worked alongside Dstl to create a series of concepts of how MDIS could be used in these scenarios (for example, UAVs connected by a common architecture might conduct surveillance; uncrewed underwater vehicles might search for submarines). TP Group then ran a series of workshops and tabletop exercises, during which subject matter experts evaluated how they would conduct a military operation using traditional forces and then using MDIS enabled forces.

The tabletop exercises generated useful insights about the potential strengths and limitations of MDIS. To explore these further, TP Group developed four computer models in Python and SIMUL8 based on the 4 primary MDIS Use Cases:

1. Theatre Entry to test the capabilities of MDIS in a surveillance and strike role (SIMUL8).
2. Suppression of Enemy Air Defence to test RAS effectiveness against ground-based air defence (Python).
3. Anti-Submarine Warfare to test how well RAS can assist with protecting a carrier strike group (Python).
4. Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation to test how well MDIS forces can stabilise an area to evacuate civilians (Python and SIMUL8).

These were verified and validated and used to explore using force mixes containing both traditional and MDIS elements.

The final section of work involved cost analysis to determine the cost implications of an MDIS capability, including a qualitative cross Defence Lines of Development (DLoDs) assessment.


The results from the study are being reported into FCI, and in turn will be used to inform their input into the Integrated Defence Review 2025. TP Group has produced several important deliverables to generate insight for the customer:

  • Use Case reports for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence, Theatre Entry, Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation and Anti-Submarine Warfare scenarios (newest versions July 2023).
  • Four model design papers (April 2024).
  • An “MDIS OA Analysis of Model Outputs and Key Findings” report detailing the results of the model excursions (April 2024).
  • The Final Report, detailing all the work conducted by the Operational Analysis workstream, summarising the results of the analysis, and providing insights and recommendations for the customer (April 2024).
  • Cost Analysis Workbook and Qualitative DLoD Assessment of an MDIS Enabled Force (April 2024).

Image - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

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