Vile methods including genetic and viral warfare, alongside robots killing humans, are potentially the “deeply frightening future” of conflict, a senior Royal Navy officer has said.
Captain Jerry Kyd, the commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s biggest and most powerful warship, said that “we are on the cusp of a new revolution in military affairs”.
Asked by the Press Association what he thinks warfare will look like over the coming decades, he said it is “going to be quite interesting”.
“I think the coalescence of militarisation, quantum computing, of automated fighting elements whether it is in the air, the surface or subsurface, the ability for computers and machines to make fast decision making loops – I think will fundamentally change the character of warfare,” he said.
“The nature of warfare won’t change – which is to dominate and kill the enemy – I think it is a exciting but deeply frightening future where I think the ethics and morals of war will be tested, and where we will see, I am sure, robots engaged in killing other human beings.”
Speaking as the aircraft carrier prepared to sail into New York, he said there will be an increase in other forms of warfare – not just biological and chemical, but also genetic.
He added: “I think we will see all sorts of vile methods – viral warfare, and also attacks fundamentally against civilian populations through bringing down infrastructure, power grids, cyber warfare – a full spectrum of activity against the population which will be deeply frightening.”
Highlighting how the last major conflict was the Second World War, he said in the seven decades since deterrence has been key – a role HMS Queen Elizabeth and the F-35B Lightning jets help fulfil.
With the Autumn Budget looming and continuing calls to increase Britain’s defence spending to above 3% of GDP, Captain Kyd said as a military officer he would always want more money.
Stressing how it is important to be on the front foot when it comes to technology, he added: “But we have to live within our means.
“Which is why we have to make very careful balanced decisions that provide a suite of armed forces that can do the job.”
Captain Kyd said the nerve agent Novichok attack in Salisbury against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is a “classic reminder that the veneer of security is very thin”.
He added: “I think the threats to the United Kingdom are more acute now than they have been for many decades.”