Some of Britain’s best and brightest young engineers are helping to reimagine how the Royal Marines will operate in years to come.
Bionic ‘invisible’ commandos deployed onto battlefields on silent ‘flying wings’, along with hi-tech laser weapons are just some of the ideas proposed by the young innovators.
The work is part of an initiative to examine how the Royal Navy’s elite fighting force can capitalise on rapid technological advancements and stay ahead of rival nations. The young innovators were brought in by the Royal Marines to thrash out ideas on how commandos might operate and utilise technology during operations in the future.
“The Royal Marines have a long history of delivering unmatched capabilities across a wide range of scenarios and theatres,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. “As global threats continue to evolve and become more complex, it is vital that we encourage our armed forces and industry to work together to ensure our fighting forces strengthen their operational edge.”
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Young engineer graduates from the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology forum (UKNEST), who represents nearly a dozen defence, tech and engineering firms, were asked to plan a mid-21st-century assault conducted by Royal Marines on an enemy missile site.
After learning of the raid scenario, the engineers began coming up with ideas and looking at what equipment troops could use, as well as how to get them ashore and neutralise potential targets.
The graduates came up with a host of innovative and SciFi-like ideas, including exoskeleton suits that allow the operators to perform “superhuman feats”, such as scaling cliffs and blending in with the environment.
Other ideas proposed by the graduate engineers included helmets equipped with holographic lenses capable of relaying the latest battlefield info, intelligence and even the health and wellbeing of a squad of commandos.
Boots, which harvest energy as the commandos move, could also power radios and other equipment in the future, the teams hypothesised, while portable 3D printers may allow commandos to produce food in the field.
Graduate Chad Swaby came up with the idea of contact lenses with thermal imaging capabilities and artificial intelligence that enables commandos to differentiate between civilians, enemy soldiers and hostages.
“We can use that information to let Royal Marines know who they need to target and who they need to save,” he said. “The whole event has been a great opportunity for us to see what commandos do, what they have to go through.”
Major Matt Perks, the Royal Marine behind the brainstorming project, said: “This was one of those inspiring projects that captured peoples’ imagination.
“The Royal Marines have always prided themselves on thinking differently, but we know we don’t have all the answers when it comes to designing the Future Commando Force. So working with these incredibly talented young engineers was a chance to push the conceptual boundaries of amphibious warfare in ways we hadn’t considered.”