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MoD plans to build Digital Backbone ecosystem


Mark Say Managing Editor


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has highlighted the plan to build a Digital Backbone ecosystem as a prime element of its strategy for the next few years.

union jack on army uniform

It is a major element of the ministry’s new Digital Strategy for Defence, which outlines its vision for where digital should be by 2030, with a number of strategic priorities set for 2025.

It is also part of a plan to invest £1.6 billion over the next 10 years in digital, data, cyber security and the relevant people and processes.

The document says the Digital Backbone will involve interconnected digital systems that integrate across domains, partners, allies and suppliers to support frontline operations and corporate activities. It will make use of hyperscale cloud services next generation networks, with the digital programmes coming under one architecture.

In the document’s foreword, MoD CIO Charles Forte says it will connect decision makers across military and business domains and provide access to relevant data. His team will work with the strategic command team, UKStratCom, to develop the system, which will connect sensors, effectors (weapons) and deciders.

Elements of its development will include modernising cryptographic solutions, making ‘secure by design’ a key standard, developing identity and access management controls and implementing core security foundations to manage obsolescence and improve information management.

All this will involve three key programmes, for joint crypt-key, defensive cyber operations and cyber resilience.

Foundry plan

This will be accompanied by the creation of a Digital Foundry, a federated ecosystem of digital innovators and developers led by Defence Digital, which will include a new Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre.

It will be aimed at providing solutions for newly identified threats for which existing tools do not provide a capability to respond.

The MoD will also continue to expand its centres of expertise for AI, automation and data.

Other priorities within the 10-year investment include achieving efficiencies, developing data driven and software enabled military capabilities, agile ways of working and creating an integrated operating model.

Data asset

“Defence will value data as a strategic asset, recognising it as the mineral ore that fuels integration and enables a system-of-systems approach,” the MoD says in summing up its vision for 2030.

“Defence will persistently deliver transformative digital capabilities to enable sustainable military and business advantage. These capabilities will be secure, integrated, easy to use and delivered at scale and pace to all in defence.”

Forte adds: “As the digital world rapidly changes so too will our assumptions. We will iterate and refresh our strategy within 18 months, and further expand on how we will build the new Digital Foundry.”

The MoD took a significant step towards strengthening its relationship with technology suppliers early this year by publishing a joint code of practice for relationships with IT industry association techUK.

Image from iStock, Ikholdwadia


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