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Warships of the future could be built from ultra-strong plastic and graphene, armed with weapons that fire at the speed of light and operated by crews a fraction of the size needed by current vessels.

The proposals are just some of the ideas from naval architects and engineers who were tasked by the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence to imagine how the future fleet might look.

The challenge was issued by Startpoint, the new procurement group which brings together experts in naval defence from government, military and industry to provide advanced technology against a backdrop of tightening budgets.

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