Futuristic Marines

August 26, 2019

Britain’s brightest brains design bionic commandos to fight future wars

Young engineering graduates from the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology forum (UKNEST), representing a wide cross-section of naval defence, technology and engineering organisations, were asked to plan a mid-21st Century assault by Royal Marines on an enemy missile site perched on a clifftop.

They came up with a string of ideas – many previously confined to the realm of science fiction:

  • Exo-skeleton suits covered by a chameleon-like skin allowing wearers to perform super-human feats, such as scaling cliffs effortlessly, and blend with the environment
  • Ekranoplan ‘flying wings’ replacing landing craft, silently skimming across the waves at hundreds of miles an hour
  • ‘Holographic Marines’ to decoy the enemy
  • Helmets with displays providing Marines with the latest intelligence, battlefield info and details of a squad’s health and fitness levels
  • Small intelligence drones which feed the latest information direct to commandos’ hi-tech helmets
  • Larger ‘grunt’ drones armed with laser guns providing fire power or dropping ammunition, supplies and even small vehicles
  • Electro-magnetic rail guns on ships firing Marines in special pods to land covertly behind enemy lines
  • Boots which harvest energy as the commandos move to power radios and other equipment
  • Rucksacks attached using magnets and fitted with energy damping to reduce the burden when marching
  • Portable 3D printers producing food in the field
  • And sleeping mats which can double up as 80in tactical display screens or solar panels to power hi-tech kit

Royal Marines of the Future

UKNEST working with the Royal Marines

A team of graduates from UKNEST Members, FutureNEST, was invited to work with the Royal Marines in a combined “visioneering” exercise to examine how technology will impact future operations.

As an introduction, FutureNEST graduates were shown training exercises at the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre, Lympstone so that they understood how Royal Marine Commandos operate and how future technology may be exploited to provide more effective equipment.  This included looking at the “kitting up” of the Commandos, surveillance equipment, transport and weapon systems.

The FutureNEST team consisted of graduates from a broad range of disciplines including Systems Engineering, Naval Architecture and Mechanical & Electrical Engineering.  They worked closely with Royal Marines who provided real-life experiences to create futuristic story-boards .  For context, a military operation was used, based on raiding a cliff-top missile battery.  The action was broken down into a series of scenarios.  For each of which, the combined team allowed their imaginations free-rein to envisage how today’s embryonic technologies could be exploited for superior military effect.  The end result is a portfolio of exciting and innovative ideas to inspire future Royal Marine capabilities.

The team had a very exciting and interesting day at DSEI, promoting the Commandos of the Future, RM 2050 concept at the Royal Navy stand. They presented their ideas to the Commandant General Royal Marines,  Major General Matthew Holmes and the First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin .  They also met the new Minister for Defence Procurement, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP.  FutureNEST enjoyed immensely working with the Royal Marines on these forward thinking ideas and welcome opportunities like this in the future!

FutureNEST also adding enormous value to the Defence Engineering Skills Conference at DSEI, with a presentation charting their path from school to the key jobs they have now in Babcock and BMT.  They highlighted how the exciting prospects in the naval sector encourage, attract and retain graduates from an expanding range of disciplines and backgrounds.  The paper stimulated debate on the major issues of recruiting and how to attract the the highest calibre graduates.  Recent successes in attracting many more women into the sector were described.