Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Royal Marines nuclear guardians test new tech on close-quarters combat exercises

17 July 2020
Royal Marines who guard the UK’s nuclear deterrent have been testing drones and robots that could aid their crucial operations during closed-quarters combat training at Jackton Police College in East Kilbride.

Normally confined to the ammunition depot at Coulport on Loch Long or the berths at nearby Clyde Naval Base used by the Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class submarines when not on deterrent patrol or training, 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines are the last line of defence protecting the nation’s Trident missiles and the machines which carry them.

These closed-quarters combat exercises – in the indoor and urban training facilities at Jackton – is part of keeping the commandos razor sharp for their operations, but was also an opportunity to look at the new technology that could give a further edge to their missions. 

As well as drones for battlefield analysis, the commandos used a ‘Throwbot’, which is a small remotely-operated robot that can be thrown in to a potentially dangerous area and quickly give a picture of what is happening on the other side, so the marines can make a clear decision on the way to tackle the threat.

“The facilities at Jackton Police College allowed us to develop a concept for the use of the Remotely Piloted Aerial System and figure out how we would integrate it within an urban environment,” said Captain James Spencer RM, Second-in-Command of P-Squadron, 43 Commando.

“Such technology is a game changer in the face of a threat.  It informs commanders and troops on the ground and allows them to make tactical actions swiftly and effectively.”

On the ‘Throwbot’, Lieutenant Charles Roberts RM, Commander of Anzio Troop, P-Squadron, said: “It can give the marine and tactical commando on the ground that extra bit of initiative to make decisions quicker and better. It is all about making the marine as operationally effective as can be.

“As members of P-Squadron, 43 Commando, we conduct nuclear security missions. Part of these operations involves working in an urban, maritime and industrial environment. Close-quarters battle and close-quarters marksmanship are the tactics and techniques most suited to the mission.”

The training allows 43 Commando to build on more advanced technological techniques as they move towards the Future Commando Force.

Future Commando Force is a bold modernisation programme that will overhaul the way world famous Green Berets operate around the globe.

Under the Future Commando Force programme more Royal Marines will operate from the sea, utilising new and innovative technology as high-readiness troops, forward deployed and ready to react, whether that’s war-fighting, specific combat missions such as commando raids, or providing humanitarian assistance.

43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines is a 550-strong unit based at HM Naval Base Clyde in Argyll and Bute.

From snipers who can disable a moving speedboat from a pursuit helicopter, through to close combat and cold-weather warfare specialists, 43 Commando are the elite warriors who protect the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

The unit works closely with the Ministry of Defence Police but also supports the Atomic Weapons Establishment, US Marine Corps and the US Coast Guard.

Ready and able 24/7/365, 43 Commando delivers specialist capability in a uniquely complex urban, maritime, and industrial environment.

Such technology is a game changer in the face of a threat. It informs commanders and troops on the ground and allows them to make tactical actions swiftly and effectively.

Captain James Spencer RM

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.