Royal Navy on the edge of tomorrow after Cyprus experiments

Drones carrying resupplies of ammunition, tiny helicopters feeding live video to leaders, and all-terrain vehicles carrying commando teams into battle.

This is just some of the equipment tested by the Royal Navy on, off and above Cyprus as it showcased commando operations of tomorrow.

The UK's Littoral Response Group used the waters, shores and exercise areas of Cyprus to see how drones, autonomous systems, new vehicles and cutting-edge communications can transform the way the Royal Marines go into action.

The lessons learned in Cyprus will help forge the nation's amphibious forces of tomorrow, as well as the Future Commando Force – the reinvention of the Royal Marines as raiding specialists, returning to their commando roots… supported by the latest tech. 

Various traditional scenarios have been played out in the eastern Mediterranean – evacuations of civilians from a war zone, taking down terrorists and warlords – but with new tech, new communications equipment, new uniforms and new tactics, transforming the 21st Century battlefield.

In all, some 40 different experiments and assessments were carried out, spread across nine real-time exercises.

Six-wheeled/tracked ‘quad bikes’ have been tested to move two-man commando teams and their kit rapidly around the island.

Overhead small drones monitored ‘enemy’ movements, providing leaders with unparalleled information on their foes – resulting in a successful assault a heavily-manned 'enemy' position.

They shared Cypriot skies with large Malloy T-150 quadcopter drones – capable of carrying loads of more than 60kg over distances as much as 70 kilometres from ships or land bases directly to the front line.

The Malloys were used extensively to drop ammunition, food and personal supplies to the men of 40 Commando as they fought their way through ancient ruins.

 

The marines have had to swiftly learn how to use the new equipment and integrate it. That kit has included state of the art communications technology and autonomous resupply aircraft, totally transforming the battle space.

Sergeant Adam Sperry

“The attack was well planned and served as a confirmation that the commandos had successfully meshed the innovative technology into their set up," explained Sergeant Adam Sperry of 30 Commando IX Group, the Royal Marines' intelligence specialists.

“The marines have had to swiftly learn how to use the new equipment and integrate it. That kit has included state of the art communications technology and autonomous resupply aircraft, totally transforming the battle space."

More than 40 international VIPs were given an insight into the progress being made with an action-packed day of demonstrations, witnessed from HMS Albion
Destroyer HMS Dragon, recently returned from the Black Sea, and French Frigate FS Jean Bart, provided an imposing backdrop to the display.

Guests saw demonstrations from the Navy's new Expeditionary Diving Group, which provides security for British warships in overseas ports; a Maritime Sniper Team and Wildcat helicopter from 815 and 847 Naval Air Squadrons – used frequently in bringing drug-runners in the Caribbean to a halt by knocking out speedboat engines; Future Commando Force teams from 42 Commando; and a suite of drones, large and small.

And – just days after the hijacked Nave Andromeda was successfully freed by UK Forces in the Solent – a joint display from UK and Cypriot forces showed how Royal Marines and Cypriot Commandos would re-take a vessel.

The Cypriot National Guard patrol vessel Commodore Andreas Ioannides was the 'target'. With Royal Marines snipers providing overwatch from a Wildcat, other British and Cypriot helicopters 'fast-roped' commandos on to the ship while small boats approached at the same time for commandos to scramble up the side using scaling ladders.

Action then switched to a close-up display on HMS Albion. Guests were guided into the vehicle deck, where more Royal Marines Commandos appeared before clearing through the ship, using Close Quarter Battle techniques to subdue their adversaries and regain control.

“HMS Albion's hosting of the capability demonstration in Cyprus has been a highlight of the LRG(X) deployment," said Commodore Rob Pedre, Commander of the Littoral Strike Group.

“The demonstration by our sailors and marines was superb, and showcased the quality of our Armed Forces, whilst providing an insight into how the Royal Navy is integrating future technology and new concepts.

“The event was also an important expression of the UK's steadfast commitment to our allies and partners, as we work together to support regional stability within the Eastern Mediterranean."