Futuristic plans for the Royal Marines which would see commandos being carried into battle on silent “flying wings” while wearing “invisible” suits have been unveiled by the Royal Navy.
Young engineers from the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology Forum were asked to create ideas to kit out a mid-21st century assault by the marines on an enemy missile site perched on a clifftop.
The graduates, representing a number of leading defence, technology and engineering firms, were briefed to use existing and future tech for the imagined scenario.
The designers spent a day at the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, near Exeter in Devon, to understand what it takes to become a Royal Marine before embarking on the project.
The ideas included exo-skeleton suits covered by a chameleon-like skin allowing wearers to perform super-human feats such as scaling cliffs effortlessly while invisibly blending in with environment.
Other suggestions included ekranoplan “flying wings” replacing landing craft which can skim across waves at hundreds of miles an hour, as well as holograms of marines to be used as a decoy for the enemy.
The marines would also be kitted out with helmets with head-up displays providing the latest battlefield intelligence and health and fitness levels, as well as boots which harness energy from running to power equipment.
Drones would be used to provide local information, with larger “grunt” drones deployed to drop ammunition and supplies while armed with laser guns.
The commandos would also be deployed behind enemy lines in special pods fired from ships using electro-magnetic rail guns, and other equipment would include sleeping mats that can double as solar panels, and portable 3D printers which would produce food in the field.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “It is tremendous to see the pioneering visions of young British engineers push the boundaries of technology and conventional thought.
“The Royal Marines have a long history of delivering unmatched capabilities across a wide range of scenarios and theatres.
“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.”
Major General Matt Holmes, Commandant General Royal Marines, said: “Our objective has been to envisage radical capabilities to make us more agile and lethal, while being able to operate in a complex digital and networked future environment.
“We can’t say how much or how quickly the reality of these visions will come to fruition. But what we can say is that if only 20% of these ideas come to reality then we will be at the cutting edge of tomorrow’s technology.”