OPINION: How will the British military look in a decade?

We asked leading military experts how they think Britain's forces will look in 10 years.

The military and tech worlds are constantly evolving. 

It is crucial for the British military to keep up with the ever-changing defence landscape to keep the UK safe.

Forces News has asked leading military experts how they think Britain's forces will look in 10 years.

Laser Weapons

Francis Tusa, Editor, Defence Analysis

"You are going to see, within a decade, much more widespread use of directed energy laser weapons across all battlefield, land, sea, and air.

"It is going to be interesting to see the modernisation of all three services in the next decade. Some pretty massive decisions have to be taken.

"There are so many areas which are growing threats. Both at low-level and at high-level cyber warfare. 

"The use of lasers as weapons to disable and destroy is starting to accelerate rapidly."

"I can easily see the situation in a decade's time, which for the sake of argument, where every Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship has several laser weapons.

"The next class of fighter aircraft entering service in 2030 will have directed energy weapons. "

Laser weapons systems deploy high energy light beams to target and destroy enemy drones and missiles (Picture: MOD).

Cyber Warfare

Francis Tusa, Editor, Defence Analysis

"Cyber will have an effect. I see the greater effect on the military as being what happens to the civilian base, which then affects the military.

"If, for the sake of argument, the British Army is trying to deploy from Salisbury Plain down to the Channel Tunnel, using the railways and someone is able to hack into the signalling, and basically red lights go on everywhere... what do we do?

"That, let's call it, is an attack on civilian infrastructure but it has a military impact.

"If then, on a battlefield, someone is able to completely jam your communications network so no one can speak to each other, no one can pass digital images... that is a very military cyber attack."

Cyber - A man uses the illuminated keyboard of a laptop 260716 CREDIT PA
Cyber warfare is due to play a huge role in future military action (Picture: PA).

Deep Battle

Nicholas Drummond, independent defence consultant

"Military technology is moving very quickly at the moment.

"What we are really seeing in terms of Army is the fact that we are increasingly engaging enemies at distance. 

"People talk about the 'deep battle', using missiles to destroy the enemy a long way away from your formations before they close and attack you."

"We are going to see a lot of technologies that enable that to happen with greater effect.

"Longer-range missiles, like the US deep strike 499 km range.

"We are going to see across land targets hard to intercept. Also, we are going to see those being used at sea."

The Deep Strike missile system is a perfect example of increasing 'deep battle' capability (Picture: Raytheon).

Expeditionary Capabilities

Peter Felstead, Editor, Jane's Defence Weekly

"We will have two aircraft carriers, F-35s flying around."

"Having two aircraft carriers is quite a significant capability, and that does allow us a true expeditionary capability.

"Especially given that we will have two of them and one will always be available. As long as that carrier is backed up by a decent carrier strike group, and our amphibious forces are maintained, that does allow us quite a formidable capability for limited operations overseas as part of the wider NATO operation, for example, or for non-combattant evacuation operations.

"All kinds of international contingencies with these kinds of forces can be very important."

Next-Generation Mobility Capability And Sensors

Dr. Jack Watling, Research Fellow for Land Warfare, RUSI

"The battlefield will probably see more autonomy in some of the weapons stations. We will probably see more autonomous resupply logistics vehicles.

"We will see a great deal more UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) of the capabilities that are organic to small units."

"We will not see the transformative capabilities coming online until, I think, 2035. Which is really in line with what the United States is looking for in terms of next-generation capability.

"I think one of the key capabilities is theatre entry and mobility, long-range reach. How quickly can you get to the area that you need to be? And, can you re-deploy rapidly?

"I think there is going to be a rapid transformation in terms of the mobility of our units. That is to keep our priority.

"We are also going to see a transformation of capability in terms of the level of sensors. The battlefield is going to become a place where deception is more valuable than camouflage because you will be picked up quite easily.

"Whether that is through your electronic signature, sophisticated radar, or thermal imaging, it is going to be harder and harder to hide."