Connecting Transatlantic Networks

U.K. and U.S. discuss joint defence strategies at Atlantic Future Forum

Thought leaders from Raytheon Technologies and fellow industries convened at the annual Atlantic Future Forum on Oct. 20-21, 2020, to discuss the future of multilateralism, the Western Alliance and international partnering strategies, new and emerging security threats, and how COVID-19 might change geopolitical and competitive landscapes.

The forum brings together senior decision-makers and industry leaders across defence, technology, cyber, space and security to shape trade relationships between the U.K. and the U.S. This year’s theme, “Securing our Future in a Disrupted World,” could not have been more pertinent as adversaries focus on increasingly sophisticated, disruptive actions and governments’ defence budgets are impacted by the economic uncertainty of COVID-19.

“We are only going to be able to counter new or emerging kinetic and non-kinetic threats with collaborative effort. We need to have all the U.S., U.K. and NATO [allies] working together to ensure that we are set up with the right equipment, the right technologies to deter and ensure that we can deal with the threats as they emerge,” said Jeff Lewis, Raytheon UK’s chief executive and managing director.

Broadcast from HMS Queen Elizabeth, the virtual event featured panel discussions and keynote speakers focusing on coronavirus challenges, artificial intelligence, the future of warfare, growing geopolitical tensions and increased strategic competition.

Lewis took part in the “The Transatlantic Alliance in Defence and Security” discussion. This session explored how to strengthen and deepen the transatlantic relationship to meet the challenges of tomorrow, and ensure collective security and prosperity.

“We work hand in hand [with the U.S.] to ensure we can develop the best, the newest and the most cost-effective technology,” Lewis said. “We’ve done that by bringing U.S. tech to the U.K. [and] we’ve further developed that within the U.K. We can create that affordable sovereignty, freedom of action and local prosperity for the U.K., in the U.K., and export that technology not just overseas, but to the U.S. as well.”

The need for greater integration of transatlantic defence services was a recurring theme.

“Going forward, strong collaboration will be absolutely vital as we seek to strengthen alliances to combat fast-moving global threats, such as hypersonics,” Lewis said.

Speaking about hypersonic missiles – commonly viewed as one of the world’s most prolific emerging threats – Bryan Rosselli, vice president of strategic missile defense for Raytheon Missiles & Defense, said, “Hypersonics and counter hypersonics are a global issue…a really strong defence [solution] is going to have to involve both evolutionary and revolutionary technologies, such as looking at how we can use artificial intelligence to increase agile decision-making.”

“We are looking into a UK-U.S. counter-hypersonics capability that will strengthen the partnership between our nations. There needs to be a multi-national approach to both basic research and the approach to counter hypersonic targets among allied nations,” he said.

Rosselli and the panel acknowledged that such a capability would be expensive, but a joint U.K.-U.S. initiative would allow the two countries to share the cost and field a hypersonic defence solution by 2023.