Tiny drones for urban warfare are among the projects that could soon be funded under an £800 million injection into UK military technology research.
The new innovation and research insights (IRIS) unit is meant to breathe fresh life into military tech research and help the UK compete with other nations’ equipment and weapons.
“This new approach will help to keep Britain safe while supporting our economy, with our brightest brains keeping us ahead of our adversaries,” Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in statement.
“Backed by a defense budget that will rise every year until the end of the decade, it will ensure that the UK maintains its military advantage in an increasingly dangerous world,” he said, launching the 10-year plan.
Among the projects which may be funded are tiny dragonfly drones – so named for their distinctive wings – which can be used for urban warfare, and a quantum gravimeter, which would be used on board drones to scan through walls and even underground, aiding with mapping.
The military is also looking at developing laser weapons and reinvigorating the Royal Navy’s main drone development program for the Scan Eagle vehicle.
The announcement closely follows the potentially deliberate leaking of a military report on Wednesday.
It outlines concerns the British military has been outstripped by Russia in terms of equipment, cyber warfare, and conventional fighting capacity.
The “Insights to ‘Training Smarter’ Against a Hybrid Adversary” document is said to have been written in March under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter, the professional head of the British Army.
New methods that Russia has allegedly deployed include the use of mass text messages, “spoofing” satellite positioning systems to make opponents lose their way, and using devices to intercept enemy soldiers’ communications, the report said.