Drones replacing radar masts. Holographic command desks. A quadcopter anti-missile defence system.
They might all sound like upgrade options for the latest Call of Duty, but these are just some of the tech specs that could be appearing on the Dreadnought 2050 - a futuristic warship concept.
The Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence recently partnered with Startpoint (a procurement group which unites experts in naval defence from government, military and industry backgrounds) to task a group of naval engineers and architects to design a 'fleet of the future': bold concepts, big ideas, ridiculous designs - anything was permissible, so long as it floated.
The list of futuristic features crammed into the Dreadnought 2050 include:
- A trimaran hull to increase stability and speed
- An acrylic ultra-tough composite hull, that can become translucent to give all-round visibility
- Laser and electro-magnetic weapons
- A fleet of on-board drones
- Automated systems, requiring a crew of only 50 to operate (compared to a crew of 200 on modern vessels)
- A 3D holographic command table
- A floodable dock for amphibious vehicles and smaller craft
- A nuclear fusion reactor
- Torpedoes capable of travelling at +300 knots (roughly 345mph)
But don't expect the Dreadnought 2050 to be taking to the waters any time soon - the challenge is more an exercise in demonstrating the potential of British naval design, as Commander Steve Prest, the Royal Navy’s fleet robotics officer, explains: "We welcome a project that allows some of Britain’s best and brightest young engineers to come up with ideas on what a warship might look like or be equipped with in 2050. We want to attract the best new talent to sea to operate, maintain and develop systems with this level of ambition."
Still, with designs like this up its naval sleeves, it would seem that the Royal Navy has no intention of surrendering its rule of the waves.