The head of the Royal Navy has said the service must face up to the challenge of a resurgent Russia in the coming years, adding that he plans to have a fleet which has “more punch” than it currently has.

During a visit to Scotland, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key set out his vision for the senior service up to 2035, outlining plans to transition to new warships and introduce new unmanned systems.

He went to shipyards in Glasgow and Rosyth, where the Type 26 and Type 31 classes of frigates are under construction.

In a speech to defence industry leaders in Rosyth, Admiral Key said Russia was “increasingly assertive” and the build-up of troops around Ukraine showed there was “tension in the air”.

He said: “Having spent the last five years in the operational space and seen what Russia is doing – I say to my Russian counterparts we are watching you and we will match you.”

The First Sea Lord also said China was expanding its armed forces at an “astonishing rate”, including the construction of new aircraft carriers and cruisers.

He said the Royal Navy would not seek to meet its adversaries “hull for hull” but would instead work with allies and develop the latest technology.

Admiral Key said the Royal Navy would challenge itself to become a “global leader in hypersonic weapons” and operate drones alongside F35 planes on its two aircraft carriers.

The Royal Marines, he said, would return “back to their commando roots” in operations from multi-role support ships.

Admiral Key said: “Our Prime Minister has charged us with becoming the foremost naval power in Europe.

“Now, that is a good challenge and one I accept. But it’s not something we measure in terms of number of people who are serving in uniform, or the tonnage of the fleet, albeit it’s great to see that growing, or the number of miles steamed. I think it’s more fundamental.

“It’s about changing the way we think, of utilising the maritime as an instrument of national power.

“It’s about packing more punch, more lethality, as the Chief of Defence Staff talked about recently, into our ships, submarines and aircraft.”

The First Sea Lord also spoke about diversity among Royal Navy personnel.

“We’re making some progress,” he said.

“But we need to be honest, it’s not enough. We need to show people across the nation that regardless of what you look like, where you come from, the accent that you have, the perspectives that you want to offer, that to be made in the Royal Navy means for us to embrace you.

“I want us to be able to shout with confidence from the rooftops not only that we thrive off the diversity amongst our people – that background doesn’t matter. What you bring to work does.”