Gavin Williamson at the launchCredit:Christopher Pledger “Yes, you are really able to do a much more discrete insertion…it’s fantastic,” the minister said, adding: “Maybe if I can have a go in future there could be a bigger order.”An aid later clarified that, despite Mr Williamson’s eagerness to equip Royal Marines with jet suits, the technology was not generally thought to be ready for frontline action. His announcement of new investment comes as Russia and China continue to step up their spending on autonomous technology.The disruptive power of such devices was laid bare shortly before Christmas, when a remote-controlled drone grounded flights at Gatwick Airport for 36 hours.Drones and unmanned vehicles are to be developed using the new fund, including vessels capable of locating and destroying seabed mines – an area in which Britain is said to be a world leader.Some of the devices can be controlled using little more than an iPad.Billions of pounds is already being spent upgrading the naval fleet and it is hoped new mine-sweeping drones could be deployed on missions in the Arabian Gulf near Bahrain within three years.Mr Williamson said in a speech: “Imagine a world in which autonomous surface vessels tow ultra-modern synthetic aperture sonars at speeds to detect those deadly devices and then deploy unmanned underwater vehicles to destroy them. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Gavin Williamson at the launch Rocket suits could be worn by Royal Navy sailors to ambush rival ships, the Defence Secretary has suggested.Gavin Williamson enthused about the potential of jetpack-led combat operations after seeing a flying demonstration at a base in Portsmouth, where he unveiled a £75 million fund for new technology.The cash injection is ostensibly earmarked for two “autonomous mine-hunter vessels” and a new programme called Navy X to develop robotics for use at sea.However, the so-called “jet suit” elicited an excited response from the minister after Alex Wilson, a pilot from the private company Gravity, took to the air using handheld turbines.The £340,000 kit has been likened to inventions seen in the superhero movie Iron Man and is capable of blasting someone up to 10,000ft in the air.Mr Williamson, who had earlier been shown a selection of the navy’s most advanced drone technology, said to Mr Wilson, 23: “Can you just imagine doing an assault on to a ship?”A representative from Gravity replied: “A ship you need to regain control of? You can have 10 people in different places all at once and the first thing they’ll know is when they hear a faint jet noise.” read more