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Royal Navy tests new tech in Cyprus

Navy has been trialling drones, autonomous systems and new communication systems under plans to evolve the Royal Marines into a ‘hi-tech raiding and strike force’

The Royal Navy has been in Cyprus to test a range of new technologies, aiming to integrate them into the UK’s defence capabilities.

The navy’s Commander Littoral Strike Group undertook trials of drones, autonomous systems and new communication systems, as well as quad bikes and jet skis during a three-month deployment to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

This is part of the navy’s Future Command Force project, which the UK government hopes will “overhaul how the Royal Marines operate in a 21st century context”, turning it into a “hi-tech raiding and strike force”.

As part of the training in Cyprus, commando teams experimented with quadcopter drones, which can carry supplies weighing more than 60kg including ammunition, military jet ski vehicles and communications technology that can provide live pictures of the ground below.

Commander Littoral Strike Group commodore Rob Pedre said the capability demonstration had been one of the highlights of the deployment.

“The demonstration by our sailors and marines was superb, and showcased the quality of our armed forces, while providing an insight into how the Royal Navy is integrating future technology and new concepts,” he said.

In 2019, the Royal Navy partnered with the Defence and Security Accelerator under its new autonomy innovation accelerator NavyX to find mature applications of autonomous systems.

In August 2020, the Royal Navy also partnered with the US Navy to work on ways to establish links between their digital delivery teams, test methods for international collaboration and develop deeper technical collaboration around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The work is part of a wider initiative to establish better technology cooperation between the US and the UK. It follows a mandate from senior leaders in digital and AI at both organisations, with the objective to “aggressively explore, develop and demonstrate” how the two countries make applications work together in an interoperable way, and how they can interchangeably use each other’s technology.

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