Technology

DSEI 2019: How Soon Could We See Unmanned Sea Vessels?

The Defence and Security Equipment International event showcases a range of military capabilities.

Watch: An unmanned vessel displayed its capabilities in the River Thames.

The Royal Navy has been displaying its latest technological collaborations on the River Thames, as part of its Navy X programme.

A Pacific 24 vessel has been adapted by BAE systems so that it can patrol waters unmanned, driven instead by operators based on a nearby warship.

It was one of a number of demonstrations that took place at The Defence and Equipment event.

John Goodwin, the Business Development Manager at BAE Systems said unmanned boats can protect soldiers:

"You can put them into slightly more hostile situations where you would hesitate to put a manned boat."

Mr Goodwin continued: "You get longer endurance out of them, without people in the boat you have a lot more latitude about how fast you can turn, how fast you can go and so those sort of things mean the boat is more agile."

Seacat missile at DSEI 2019
The SeaCat missile was also on display.

Experts say we could soon see more defence industry innovations being trialled by the Navy.

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin said they need to "embrace technology in a much bigger way" to be at the forefront of technological advances.

"The world is moving faster than the time that we take to access trial and introduce equipment - that's why we're introducing Navy X," he said.

Adm Radakin added: "This is our new autonomy and lethality accelerator. It will rapidly develop, test and trial cutting edge equipment across all maritime environments.

"We're doing some great things across the service but it has to be stronger, bolder and much more impactful."

Other possible military assets included the MAST13 by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

Surveillance vessels at DSEI 2019
Surveillance vessels showcased their abilities in the water.

The vessel can be operated autonomously and can detect where there Is a threat, collect data and protect ships from mines and enemies.

Also on display were a range of surveillance technologies, weaponry and body armour.

The developer behind each innovation hopes to get military backing.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Anne-Marie Trevelyan said there is a range of factors the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have to access, including how the technologies can be used for soft and hard power but also the costs.

"Value for money is always important, so that challenge is always there to say are we buying what we need, are we getting a good price for it and are we thinking about the exportability of it if we're building it here," Ms Trevelyan said.