Bionic ‘invisible’ commandos, carried into battle on silent ‘flying wings’ while hologram decoys distract an enemy pounded by rail and laser guns.
This is the futuristic vision of the Royal Marines, dreamed up by Britain’s best and brightest young engineers, told to harness present and future tech, to imagine how the Royal Navy’s elite troops might go into action in the future.
Young engineering graduates from the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology forum (UKNEST), representing nearly a dozen leading defence, technology and engineering firms, were asked to plan a mid-21st Century assault by Royal Marines on an enemy missile site perched on a clifftop.
The graduates spent a day at the Commandos’ Training Centre at Lympstone near Exeter to understand what it takes to become a Royal Marine, some of the current equipment used and the challenges faced on real-life operations.
The engineers were then given the raid scenario and thrashed out ideas, looking at what troops would be equipped with, how to get them ashore from ships over the horizon, how the Marines would neutralise a protected target, how they might protect themselves and distract the enemy.
Graduate Chad Swaby, from the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organization, came up with the idea of contact lenses with thermal imaging ability and artificial intelligence which can differentiate between civilians, enemy soldiers and hostages – from the way they move. “We can use that information to let Royal Marines know who they need to target and who they need to save,” he added: “The whole event has been a great opportunity for us to see what commandos do, what they have to go through. It’s helped me to understand what I need to give the marines to help them succeed on a mission.”
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. The results have been spectacularly innovative.”