Future Military Tech
Coming to a Battlefield Near You
February 19, 2014 by David Khan
A soldier fires a prototype, non-lethal PHaSR (Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response) rifle.
Military leaders throughout history have always been in search of the latest technology in order to gain a tactical and strategic advantage over adversaries. Genghis Khan used the horse to out maneuver his tribal enemies. The Assyrian’s were the first to use iron in their weapons. The Chinese were the first to use gunpowder in the form of pyrotechnic weapons like cannons and rockets. Having a slight advantage could not only aid in the actual mechanics of warfare, but in the psychological battles as well to make potential attackers think twice before launching an attack.
This strategy of strength through superior firepower and technology is something that is still in use today, as evidenced by the number of sophisticated weapons and defense systems being developed. And some of the innovations being developed by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are quite revolutionary.
Robotics—Robotics is a booming area for future defense systems. One such advancement already being tested is exoskeleton suits for infantry. While a far cry away from what Tony Stark wore in the movie Iron Man, these highly sophisticated robotic systems would allow the ground infantryman the capability to not only carry larger loads, but would also provide them the ability to move at a significantly faster pace while reducing the fatigue normally associated with moving troops on foot.
Other concepts being tested include robotic mules to carry large amounts of supplies, such as food and ammunition. These mules would reduce the load that Soldiers would have to carry by providing an agile method of transportation that could silently keep up with the infantry soldier regardless of terrain.
Micro Spies—No longer a gimmick from James Bond movies, miniature robotic listening devices are real, viable source of intelligence gathering, now and in the future. Some devices may be the size of an earthworm, moving silently through the smallest of openings and collecting audio, video, or environmental data. There are even drones the size of a small flying insect that could conduct reconnaissance missions in areas that would be too hazardous for humans.
Non-Lethal Weapons—Non-lethal weapons and tactics have long been a part of urban warfare and crowd control. Loud music, bright lights, and water cannons have given way to more sophisticated and harder-to-foil tools. Sometimes called directed-energy beams or active-denial technology, the purpose of these weapons is to inflict pain that doesn’t cause long lasting injury to the recipient.
One such type of weapon is a microwave ray gun that is capable of emitting high-energy sound waves into the heads of the targets. It causes incapacitation because of the intensity of the sound, which can’t be foiled just by wearing hearing protection or by covering your ears.
Laser Tech—Laser technology isn’t something relegated to science fiction television programs—it’s actually real science that’s being developed for more than industrial purposes. The Air Force has been developing airborne laser systems for a number of years. The main purpose would be for tracking and neutralizing missile threats. Similar types of laser systems have also been developed for use on truck or ship mounted deployment.
Lower power laser systems such as the Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response (PHaSR) rifle lasers are designed as portable, non-lethal weapons to deter adversaries without causing permanent injury.
Cyber Warfare—The next big war might not be fought on a conventional battlefield, but in the virtual environments of cyberspace. Through the use of hacking, dedicated denial of service, and other techniques, a country’s commerce or infrastructure could be disrupted or severely damaged.
An alleged example of cyber warfare in action was the introduction of a virus into an Iranian uranium enrichment facility, which resulted in the permanent damage of equipment and halted further enrichment. The advantages of this type of clandestine warfare are minimal collateral damage and a significantly more targeted campaign focused only on specific targets.
These are but a few examples of some of the incredible technological advancements that have been made in military technology. Some of these may end up being actively integrated into the weaponry of the future, while others could be rendered obsolete by new technological developments. The only thing for certain is that when it comes to the military’s love of new technology, there are few limits.
Sources: www.kiplinger.com, science.howstuffworks.com, defensetech.org, www.popsci.com