The British Royal Navy’s new autonomous vessel demonstrated its potential and capabilities by firing a missile for the first time.

Called ‘Maritime Demonstrator For Operational eXperimentation (Madfox)’, the ship was participating in the annual experimentation exercise.

Nato’s REPMUS 2021 is a two-week maritime exercise that was conducted in September in Portugal. It involved testing the integration of Nato systems, as well as exploring current and new military roles for autonomy.

During the trials, a Puma drone launched from Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ‘USNS Carson City’ relayed target information to a land-based control centre for the firing.

MADFOX fired the missile upon receipt of the target information.

In March this year, the navy’s experimentation innovator NavyX received the autonomous military ship.

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NavyX is the Royal Navy’s ‘Autonomy and Lethality Accelerator’ designed to rapidly test and develop new and emerging technologies.

NavyX Experimentation team leader commander Antony Crabb said: “The system launch from MADFOX was a UK first, demonstrating the potential of uncrewed surface vessels for lethal and other payloads; crucially, the whole serial was commanded, enabled and facilitated using information provided by uncrewed systems.

“It is a significant step for UK/US interoperability and interchangeability.”

REPMUS 2021 saw participation of over 900 personnel, 70 autonomous uncrewed systems and 11 naval ships.

In addition, the boat supported night-time amphibious operations, which saw MADFOX observe a ‘target’, undetected, and provide ‘live imagery’ through its onboard cameras.

Corpo de Fuzileiros lieutenant Maia said: “The situational awareness provided by MADFOX and the aerial drones was brilliant, and the new technology enabled very close coordination between the headquarters and my marines.

“Even before leaving the ship we had good information, and this was updated as we travelled to the target. It really showed how Nato drones are becoming more and more interoperable.”