The U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations and First Sea Lord Adm. Tony Radakin intend to “sign a future integrated warfighting statement of intent that sets a cooperative vision for interchangeablty,” CNO Adm. Mike Gilday announced at the virtual Atlantic Future Forum, being held on board the RN’s new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth.
“We will synchronize pioneering capabilities, strengthen operating concepts and focus our collective efforts to deliver combined sea power together. By organizing our cooperation on carrier strike, underwater superiority, navy and marine integration and doubling down on future war fighting like unmanned and artificial intelligence, we will remain on the leading edge of great power competition.”
It is unclear what the specifics of the statement of intent will be, but the U.S. and Royal navies have been focusing heavily in recent years on aligning its capabilities to be useful to each other in combined maritime operations. The message from both navies is that this will continue into the future.
Throughout the Royal Navy’s effort to get the Queen Elizabeth ready for deployment, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been working closely with the service, training British pilots on the F-35B and getting the ship certified to operate them. The Marine Corps' Fighter Attack Squadron 211 embarked on Queen Elizabeth earlier this month during the ship’s group exercise ahead of a deployment next year.
The Marines will also mix in with Royal Air Force F-35Bs during the QE’s 2021 deployment.
In remarks at the forum, Radkin echoed Gilday’s remarks, saying the two forces needed to continue to work to align efforts.
“Throughout our careers we have had a drive for interoperability with allies,” Radkin said. "But increasingly it feels to us that bar has to be raised. … The obvious example is the U.S. Marine jets on board the QE carrier. That is an obvious example of interchangeability.
“So, we are trying to drive a new standard. Partly to drive all of us to strengthen our interoperability but to go even higher and recognize that interchangeability is going to be an even stronger feature in the future.”
Radkin said the services would focus on four areas to grow this “interchangeability”: undersea warfare; carrier operations; aligning the efforts of the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy to become a cohesive fighting unit; and on advanced warfighting programs such as artificial intelligence and cyber.
The United Kingdom is in the middle of an integrated defense review, initiated after Boris Johnson was elected prime minster. It was interrupted during the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak but appears to be running again. The review could have sweeping impacts on the British defense budget, but it is unclear where the budget ax will fall.
When the review was announced, however, the government promised a “radical reassessment” of Britain’s place in the world.