Addressing delegates at DSEI earlier this month, Air Marshal (Ret’d) Greg Bagwell, Air Power Association President, threw something of a ‘hand grenade’ when he raised the issue of interoperability and where the defence industry is going wrong.

How do we continue to operate and interoperate between nations, systems and militaries in a world that is becoming increasingly complex – in terms of the complexity of both data and threats?

“At the moment we are applying a patchwork approach,” Bagwell says. “We are trying to ensure that old works with new, different nations work with different nations.”


“I question whether it’s time for a rethink…to really go back to the drawing board and if necessary redesign the network from the ground up.”

By Air Marshal (Ret’d) Greg Bagwell, Air Power Association President


Fundamental re-think

He admits: “I knew when I said it that I was almost asking for mission impossible because it does require a fundamental rethink. Instead of thinking about platforms that you then integrate, you actually think about a network which the platforms have to plug into.”

He gives the example of mobile phones: “You don’t really worry about the mobile phone network when you buy your phone. You really just worry about how sexy the phone is and what stuff it does. In the military we unfortunately haven’t taken the same approach.”

Many tools and products in defence are purposely proprietary to retain confidentiality. Is a standardised approach really possible? Watch the video for Bagwell’s views on how it could work.