Weapons like the tank and machine gun changed the face of warfare a century ago. Advancements continued to alter how troops wage war throughout the rest of
A mechanical worm developed by the MIT for the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency may inch its way into future combat situations. The Meshworm, which is about the size of a fingertip, uses artificial muscles that mimic how an earthworm moves to propel itself forward. It’s durable, may be used to pick up audio and eventually video, and can get through tight spots or be air-dropped or launched to conduct surveillance behind enemy lines.
9. XM25 Airburst Grenade Launcher
Nicknamed “the Punisher,” the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System’s prime objective will be to destroy targets hidden behind cover or buried underground. The semi-automatic airburst grenade launcher fires 25 mm grenades meant to explode in mid-air at or near the target. The punishment can continue and continue as a laser rangefinder determines the distance to the target and automatically transmits the distance to the grenade in the firing chamber. The airburst effect is said to help hit targets dug into the ground or behind cover.
8. Advanced Infantry Uniform
When completed, the advanced infantry uniform under development by the U.S. Army will feature onboard computers and enhanced communications. The uniform will also increase the strength of soldiers making them similar to bionic fighting men and women. Exoskeletons, liquid body armor, nanotechnology and more will be part of the uniform of the future soldier. Field medics and commanders will be able to use indicators within the suit to track heart rate, hydration and blood pressure.
7. Military Defense Lasers
Lockheed Martin is working with the U.S. military to build a prototype laser weapon that can blast 300 kilowatts of energy. That would be enough power to take down a cruise missile. Right now a 100-kilowatt laser’s more likely a reality, which would let the military shoot down a short-range cruise missile or a long-range drone. It could also take down a large aircraft, but not a fighter jet. How many dollars a 300-kilowatt system would cost to develop may be its main hindrance.
Meanwhile, the military is also working to develop the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System, which would use liquid lasers that would contain a cooling system and be fired consistently. This future military technology being developed now could greatly increase the laser weapon’s role in combat.
6. Unmanned Tanks
Russia’s Armata tank is already getting a lot of attention by militaries around the world who wonder how their weapons will fare against it. Now the Armata is getting even more focus as one of the future military technologies being developed now with Russian claims a future Armata could be unmanned. Its chief engineer, Andrei Terlikov, made claims that future advancements could turn it into a fully robotic vehicle that could operate by itself on the battlefield. A digital control system that tracks targets activates its defense system and directs how it moves is more likely in the near future.
5. Humanoid Robots
Barcelona, Spain-based company PAL Robotics has already developed a prototype humanoid service robot with an autonomous navigation system and voice and face recognition capabilities. It can transport packages, entertain the crowds, serve drinks and more. What about going first into buildings to pick up objects or scout for the enemy during combat? Such a robot could get medical supplies safely behind enemy lines.
4. Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile System
China’s reportedly working on the DF-21D, an anti-ship ballistic missile that would be able to destroy an aircraft carrier from long range. It would be launched from a launcher pulled by a mobile truck and include satellite tracking and special radar to zoom in on the target. Its warhead would supposedly be powerful enough to cause major damage to an aircraft carrier. The test isn’t necessarily whether China can make the missile, but rather it can support it through communications, surveillance, intelligence and other technology required to make it work and give it enough maneuverability to get through enemies’ military defenses. If so, the question for the U.S. military and others will be whether they come up with the technology to beat it.
3. Stealth Camouflage
The Canadian camouflage design company Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. is using special light bending technology called Quantum Stealth to create material that would make anything from people to tanks and fighter jets invisible. The technology bends light waves around the target and makes it invisible not only to the eyes but to night vision and thermal signatures as well. It won’t even cast a shadow. Both the U.S. and Canadian militaries have expressed an interest.
2. Hybrid Insects
While it sounds like something out of a comic book, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on a hybrid insect micro-enabled-mechanical systems program. If successful, it would create a sort of cyborg-like insect that could be implanted with mechanical devices so it could be remote controlled and be used for surveillance. This future military technology being built now begs the question that, if the U.S. military designs it, would enemy forces be the only ones that these cyborg insects are used to spy on? Or do Americans need to look even closer next time they see a fly at their cookout?
1. Transhuman and Synthetic Soldiers
DARPA’s biotech unit is said to be developing synthetic soldiers. First it’s working on the transhuman soldier.
Efforts continue to develop advanced prosthetics like mind-controlled limbs, neural interfaces and neurotechnological fixes to problems like PTSD and other psychological trauma. In time, they could boost a soldier’s ability to function mentally past what the soldiers’ brain is currently able to do. Such technology could make soldiers more resistant to not only physical injuries but illnesses and diseases as well.
Artificial brains may also be part of the equation, leading to synthetic robots. The next soldier of the future may be one that has an infrared vision or doesn’t need to sleep. Artificial chromosomes are already under development. What about the immortal soldier? Who knows what’s possible as technology continues to advance?