Want to learn more about the latest plans for AI in Defence whilst meeting representatives from other AI companies with a Defence focus? Join us at DAIC Connect, the Defence AI Centre (DAIC)'s upcoming industry engagement day.

The DAIC champions, enables and innovates AI across UK Defence, working collaboratively with government, industry, academia and allies for the strategic advantage of the UK Armed Forces.

The aim of the first DAIC Connect day is to help develop a pan-Defence understanding of the AI market and to support future connections (both between Defence and industry, and between different companies).

After short updates from the DAIC and other parts of Defence, the day will focus on providing an opportunity for companies to meet and brief a range of MOD teams and industry colleagues at a single event. As well as sending individual representatives (up to two per company), companies have the opportunity to bring stands to display and discuss their products in the networking area as event partners (please get in touch with defence@chiefdisruptor.com to discuss), whilst a selection of SMEs will have the opportunity to raise awareness of their capabilities by delivering a short ‘pitch’ to the audience of Defence representatives and industry colleagues.



0845  Registration and networking

0930  Welcome

Richard Morgan, Founder Chief Disruptor Defence

0935  MOD AI updates

Charlie Forte, Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Defence

Commodore Rachel Singleton MBE, Head DAIC

Hugh Woodward, Head of HQ & Strategy, DAIC

Captain Keith Taylor, Head of C5ISR, Navy Develop

Carla Hodges, Head of Navy AI Cell

Lieutenant Colonel Keith Hebard, SO1 AI, Army Headquarters

Group Captain Edward Whitechurch, DACOS Integration Strategy, Air Capability

Dina Kakaras, Head of CommercialX

1105  Coffee break

1135  SME company pitches


Oxford Dynamics



1255  Lunch and networking

1355  SME company pitches


Intellium AI

Smith Institute

Alchem Technologies

1515  Coffee break

1545  SME company pitches




1645  Closing Remarks

John Ridge CBE, Director Defence Innovation

Air Vice-Marshal David Arthurton OBE, Director Strategy and Military Digitalisation, Defence Digital

1720  Networking drinks

1820  Event closes




Charlie Forte, Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Defence

Charlie has 39 years industry experience gained from leading IT globally as Deputy Group Global CIO at BP, as CEO of Global IT Services at Prudential and as Interim CIO at Thames Water. He has worked as an independent consultant helping businesses transform their ability to exploit digital technology.

Charlie Forte was appointed the Chief Information Officer for the Ministry of Defence in January 2018. He is the primary advisor to the Defence Board on Information and Digital and is responsible for strategy and policy on the exploitation, operation, interoperability and protection of information and digital technology across the Ministry of Defence. This includes cyber security and resilience; the promotion of new ways of working, information technology-enabled innovation; and the delivery of effective IT services. Charlie is a member of the Defence Executive Committee and the Strategic Command Executive Committee.

AVM Daid Arthurton

Air Vice-Marshal David Arthurton OBE, Director Strategy and Military Digitalisation, Defence Digital

Air Vice-Marshal Arthurton was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in March 1994. His early operational career was spent flying the Tornado GR1 and GR4, to include Operation TELIC over Iraq in 2003.

In October 2004 he was selected for exchange duties and posted to the 13th Bomb Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, to fly the B-2 Stealth Bomber. During this tour he had the privilege of becoming the first non-US pilot to fly the Stealth Bomber to include operational missions. Staff tours in the Ministry of Defence, Permanent Joint Headquarters and British Embassy in Washington followed before he was selected to command 617 Sqn in 2012.

Posted back to PJHQ in June 2014, he assumed the post of DACOS J3 with responsibility for Africa, running UK operations across the continent including Op GRITROCK, the military contribution to the counter-ebola effort in Sierra Leone. Remaining at PJHQ, in Jan 2016 he assumed the role of DACOS Joint Effects where he led the team that enabled the delivery of synchronised multi-domain effects in UK operational theatres.

In November 2016 he was assigned to command RAF Leeming. Following command, and on promotion to 1* in Dec 2018, he was assigned to Al Udeid Air Base as the CAOC Director, responsible for coalition air operations across CENTCOM. On return from the Middle East, he was posted to RAF Marham to become the Lightning Force Commander, before commanding the Combat Air Force during which he oversaw the Force generation of UK F-35B for its operational debut on Carrier Strike Group 21.

Assigned as Director Strategy and Military Digitisation in May 2022, he is responsible for accelerating the transformation and adoption of digital capability and services across the battlespace.


John Ridge CBEJohn Ridge CBE, Director Defence Innovation

John Ridge CBE studied Architectural Engineering before joining the Army. As a junior officer, he completed tours with Commando forces and Gurkha engineers. He later commanded a bomb disposal squadron and a close support engineer regiment, including three tours of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The majority of his staff appointments were in the Ministry of Defence. After attending Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC), he took command of 8 Engineer Brigade, overseeing the Brigade’s first deployments to South Sudan and Estonia. In September 2017, he was appointed Chief of Joint Force Operations, a tour which included deploying to the Caribbean as the Task Force Commander for the UK’s crisis response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

John left the Army in 2020 to join the Civil Service. He spent two years as Director Strategy and Enterprise Services in Defence Intelligence, where he led transformation and corporate services. In March 2022, he moved to 10 Downing Street on a six-month loan, leading transformation in No10. He returned to MOD in September as Director Defence Innovation.

Outside work he is a keen trail runner, cyclist and triathlete. He is married to Nina, a broadcast meteorologist and teacher, and they have four children.


Screenshot 2023-11-16 at 09.40.08Commodore Rachel Singleton MBE, Head DAIC

Rachel Singleton joined the Royal Navy in 2002 from the Royal Naval Reserve, following a short career as a software engineer in the telecommunications sector. Her operational experience includes time onboard aircraft carriers ARK ROYAL and ILLUSTRIOUS, two short tours in Afghanistan and a tour as Weapon Engineer Officer of Type 45 destroyer HMS DARING. Her non-operational roles have spanned capability development, IT service management, cyber and Defence Engagement and she recently spent a rewarding two years leading on AI at the British Defence Staff in Washington DC, before returning to Navy Headquarters as Head of Digital Development and SRO of the Naval Strike Network programme.

Rachel has recently joined Defence Digital as Head of the DAIC and is responsible for setting the conditions for the widespread exploitation of AI within Defence, championing the appropriate and informed use of AI, ensuring the enablers are in place such as tooling, platforms and data, and sponsoring specific innovation projects, identifying crucial problem sets and developing AI models to address them.

Rachel is a graduate of Birmingham University where she studied Mathematics and Philosophy and has also undertaken an in-Service MSc in Information Systems at Cranfield University, and the Defence Academy’s Advanced Command and Staff Course alongside the associated MA in Defence Studies from Kings College London. At home Rachel is outnumbered by her husband and two sons and any spare time is spent reading, making music or hiking.


Hugh WoodwardHugh Woodward, Head of HQ & Strategy, DAIC

Hugh is a Chartered Engineer and Project Professional who joined the UK MOD back in 1998 as a fresh-faced student at the Engineering Training Centre in Malvern. Since then, Hugh has been involved a variety of engineering, programme delivery, commercial, and policy roles across government, industry and charity – notably spending 5 years from 2016 leading teams to deliver technology and international aspects of the UK’s Future Combat Air System (aka Tempest). Before joining the DAIC in April 2022, Hugh was seconded for 11 months in a leadership role to design and implement the Cabinet Office COVID 19 Task Force Delivery Unit - learning a lot about the heart of UK government and the amazing things that can be achieved at pace through collaboration.

Outside of work - and as a result of endless sports injuries - he has recently started trying to play tennis (badly) and enjoys travel, yachting, and books that make him think.



Dina Kakaras, Head of CommercialX

Dina has been Head of the Software and Cloud Services category in Defence Digital Commercial since 2019. She has supported delivery to key areas such as Cyber, Crypt Key, Intelligence, Software enterprise agreements, Cloud and hosting services and the Foundry team through a strong category focus.

She joined the MOD from Worldpay, the UK’s largest payments processing company and has worked in procurement and supply chain roles within financial services throughout her career. 

Dina now leads the Commercial X programme alongside her Software and Hosting role. She is committed to simplifying the way MOD procures digital, innovation and technology products and services through the pan-MOD CommercialX function.


Captain Keith TaylorCaptain Keith Taylor, Head of C5ISR, Navy Develop

Captain Taylor joined the Royal Navy in May 1991. Following Initial Officer training he was Appointed as the Deputy Weapon Engineer Officer in HMS RICHMOND. From 2002 he was employed in the MCMV IPT and in 2004 was employed within DSTL as a Military Advisor, primarily focused on small boat (FIAC) and ASM threats. Promoted to Lt Cdr in 2006, he joined the C4 and ISTAR Division (N6) in NCHQ in 2007, with responsibilities for Strategic Comms bearers, including Military and Commercial Satellite communications as well as the Defence HF Communications Service.

In 2009 he joined HMS ILLUSTRIOUS as Senior WE. In 2012 he joined PORFLOT as DSWEO, where he helped establish and embed the Force Generation Authority concept. Following this, he undertook a challenging 18 months as the WE Branch Manager in 2014.

Promoted to Commander in 2014, he was assigned to the Navy Information Warfare Division (N6) where he worked with ISS and JFC to facilitate the delivery of IW systems into service. In 2017 he joined HMS PRINCE OF WALES as her first sea-going Cdr WE. Assigned as SWEO to SURFLOT in Portsmouth in Apr 20 he helped embed new ways of working within the formed SURFLOT before joining HMS Collingwood in September 2020 as head of the WE Training Group.

Now in the Navy’s Develop Directorate as the Head of C5ISR, Captain Taylor has returned to the world of ‘N6’ and aims to help shape the vision for a digitised and network enabled Navy, delivering the communications and systems required to enable the future Maritime Operating Concept.

Captain Taylor lives in West Sussex with his wife Carol and two children. His interests include snowboarding, cycling, generally keeping fit and moonlighting as a taxi driver to meet his children’s weekend sporting schedule.


Carla_Hodges HeadshotCarla Hodges, Head of Navy AI Cell

Carla Hodges is the AI Lead for Navy Command, responsible for leading the Navy AI Cell and delivery of the AI Implementation Roadmap.

Having completed a degree at Reading University, Carla started her career at Dstl in a Quantitative Analyst role looking at whole force problems and solutions.

Relatively new in this role, Carla joined Navy Command in Sept 2023, initiating the formation of the Navy AI Cell. She is looking forward to driving forward the use of AI within the Navy, working across different areas to enable successful AI adoption.


Lt Col Keith HebardLieutenant Colonel Keith Hebard, SO1 AI, Army Headquarters

Lieutenant Colonel Keith Hebard joined the Army in 1997 at Welbeck 6th Form College and commissioned into the British Army’s Royal Engineers in 2001. He has commanded Armoured Engineers at Troop and Squadron levels on operations and is an Advanced Bomb Disposal operator and Army Commando. With deployments to the USA, Canada, Middle East and Europe, he has a broad command and staff experience from battlegroup to the warfighting division. He commanded the Royal Engineers Warfare wing before joining Army Headquarters in 2022 and took the lead for establishing the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Centre.

Keith is an inquisitive geek, and a graduate of the Royal Military College of Science, where he completed a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Information Systems Management’ and undertook an in-service Master’s Degree in ‘Information Capability Management’. Throughout his career, he has championed the use of data and technology: He is partly responsible for the drone ban on Salisbury Plain in 2013 after he was the first to use a modified drone to co-ordinate a battlegroup attack (after getting air clearance… safely). He built and fitted a drone charging module and reversing camera to his WARRIOR armoured vehicle and redeveloped the search algorithm for Defence’s explosive ordnance disposal database, all over 10 years ago.

In 2021 Keith led a team to model the business architecture of the Royal Engineers enterprise, resulting in the Project WILSON report which provided recommendations for a digital future and a framework for Army architectural notation.

With a passion for designing and building, he used his CAD and manufacturing skills to create explosive cratering charges using 3D printers and has learned several languages including C/C++, javascript, PHP, Node.js and G-Code. Combined with A-Level electronics, he has designed and built several complex projects, including a 3D camera, CNC mill/lathe, solar battery and plastic injection moulding machine. His house is now controlled by dozens of Arduinos and Raspberry Pis which have cut his electricity bill by 90%.


Screenshot 2023-11-23 at 15.27.59Group Captain Edward Whitechurch, DACOS Integration Strategy, Air Capability

Group Captain Ed Whitechurch is a Fast Jet Weapons Systems Officer, whose service has spanned both Air to Air and Air to Ground roles, with staff experience in operations and management of Defence and command experience on a UK Main Operating Base.

Following 5 years operating the Tornado F3 in the Air Defence role, Ed was selected for exchange duties, spending three years in the USA on a front-line multi-role US Air Force F15E Strike Eagle squadron. More recently, in 2015, he returned to a flying role as a Flight Commander on the Tornado GR4.

Staff roles have included a tour on the Middle East (ME) Current Operations team within the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters, where he managed the joint personnel footprint across the ME and supported the delivery of operations across the region. In 2019 he joined the Air Staff Strategy Team within MOD Main Building where he was involved in the 2020 refresh of the RAF Strategy, the Integrated Review, and was the Air Staff lead for conceptual development.

In September 2021 he became OC Operations Support Wing at RAF Waddington, leading and managing a wing of 6 squadrons (Operations, Air Traffic Control, Cyber, Logistics, Engineering Support and Safety). On promotion to Group Captain in August 2023 he assumed the role of Assistant Head Integration within Air Capability Strategy.

His operational deployments have included air operations over Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

For details of future Defence activities please contact defence@chiefdisruptor.com

Here is a short video summary of the day: