£75m Confirmed For Minehunting Navy Robots

An investment worth £75 million has been confirmed for new Royal Navy technology, including robots and autonomous mine-hunters.

The funds will be spent on a new joint military and industry hi-tech accelerator, NavyX, and two new autonomous mine-hunter vessels with cutting-edge sonars. These will enable remote mine-hunting in the Gulf at a higher range, speed and accuracy.

A new facility will also be created to allow new equipment to be tested.

The Defence Secretary announced the funding during a visit to QinetiQ’s Portsdown Technology Park in Portsmouth.

"It’s not just about mine-hunting robots, it’s about creating new capabilities right across the Royal Navy; embracing new technology, making sure that our warfighters have very cutting-edge technology," Gavin Williamson said.

When asked whether more personnel would be needed to operate and maintain new technology, including two new Littoral Strike Ships which are part of the first of the three Royal Navy Defence Transformation Fund programmes announced in February, Mr Williamson said:

"What we’re seeing is the first time in multiple generations a growing Royal Navy, with more people joining the Royal Navy, but part of what we’re doing is bringing new technology so all of those service personnel are able to do more with that new technology and that’s what we’re providing for them."

Watch: Gavin Williamson on 'embracing new technology'.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones said: "From the invention of the steam catapult and aircraft carrier, to the first use of sonars and torpedoes, the Royal Navy has a strong pedigree in the development, testing and introduction of new technologies that help us keep our country safe.

"Across the generations, our willingness to embrace innovation has kept us one step ahead of our adversaries, and to assure our continued success on operations into the future it is vital that the Royal Navy continues to be equipped with the latest cutting-edge capabilities we need to address the rapidly evolving challenges that pose a threat to our national interests around the globe."

It also comes after Mr Williamson announced the first of the three Royal Navy Defence Transformation Fund programmes in February.

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