The advancements in warfare and weaponry over the past 100 years have been astronomical. From the invention of the machine gun and the tank in World War One, to the modern air force and of course nuclear weapons in World War Two, military advancements have only continued to develop at a rapid pace in the later half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. These rapid changes seem to have altered the face of warfare every decade. While much of the weaponry utilized today could still be called ‘traditional,’ as global tensions remain high, nations are taking extreme measures to maintain their military supremacy by developing new technologies that give them an edge over perceived threats and enemies. With the ten new technologies on this list, all of which have been tested, or are at least in medium to advanced stages of development, the face of warfare is set to change again, and in some ways, much more dramatically and shockingly than ever thought possible.
10. XM25 Grenade Launcher
The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System is a semiautomatic grenade launcher utilized by the American Military that has the distinction of being nicknamed the Punisher. The Punisher was developed to better destroy targets that were either hidden behind cover or even dug into trenches, below ground. The XM25 also fires grenades that are programmed to explode either mid launch on their way to the target, or within the proximity of the target. Because the grenades also explode in an airburst, they will detonate, and then track the distance travelled towards the target and detonate again. The XM25 was tested in Afghanistan and is expected to be fully employed by the military late this year.
9. Kill Weapon
The Chinese navy has long been rumoured to have been developing a massive weapon capable of destroying U.S. naval vessels not only in a stealth manner, but from long ranges as well. Furthermore, the missiles being developed are capable of carrying a large enough warhead that they would inflict exceptional damage to an American war craft, with some speculating that one of these missiles could sink a U.S. super aircraft carrier. Beyond the size and destructive capability of these ‘kill weapons,’ they are also speculated to be highly undetectable to radar due to the missiles’ high manoeuverability. When these weapons will be deployed is as yet unknown.
8. The Railgun
An electrically charged and powered massive projectile launcher, the Railgun’s technology can theoretically aid in launching aircraft into space. As a weapon, the Railgun has been built and tested to fire non-explosive ordinance at extremely high speeds, faster than the speed of sound in fact, in order to be used as anti-aircraft and anti-missile weaponry. The technology to fully support the Railgun is still being developed by the U.S. Navy, in particular, the need to equip naval vessels with battery power that can support the weapon, as well as the necessity of developing Railgun technology itself to slow down the speed at which the weapon erodes. This weapon of the future is firmly in the sights of the military, and there are hopes to fully equip ships by 2025.
7. DREAD Silent Weapon System
With a name like DREAD, there can only be something seriously devastating about this weapon, and of course there is. A massive machine gun that uses rotating discs to fire rounds as opposed to gunpowder, the DREAD Silent Weapon System is a centrifugal weapon that was first patented in 2003. The gun can fire up to 120,000 rounds per minute, with the speed of a handgun, and produces no sound, no heat and no recoil. The DREAD Silent Weapon System is truly a stealthy killing machine capable of cutting down enemies silently and quickly. While the Army is developing the weapon, its date of becoming operational is unknown.
6. Aurora Excalibur
An unmanned aerial fighter craft, the Excalibur, developed by Aurora Flight Sciences, is capable of both a vertical takeoff and a vertical landing. With the ability to reach speeds of nearly 500 miles per hour, the Excalibur can also carry numerous weapons, with plans for the full-scale model to come equipped with up to four Hellfire missiles. The first version of the Excalibur was successfully tested as far back as 2009, which prompted development of the full-scale model, a weapon that when deployed will be instrumental in very fast and discreet drone strikes and elimination of targets. Meant to fill a void between the unmanned Predator drone and the more traditional strike vehicles like the Apache helicopter, the Excalibur is expected to be fully deployed in the next five to ten years.
5. High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System
The High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System, known as HELLADS, is a weapon being developed to counter rockets, artillery and mortars. The difference between HELLADS and traditional weapons is that it utilizes lasers to shoot down threats, and is also compact enough to be deployed on a traditional fighter craft. Unlike traditional lasers that need a cooling off period, the liquid lasers HELLADS utilizes can fire consistently as long as they contain a cooling system, making them far more effective in war. The HELLADS system has been in test stages for the past six years, and are anticipated to be fully operational within the next five years, changing the face of modern warfare.
4. Quantum Stealth Camouflage
Something seriously out of a science fiction film, the stealth camouflage system will essentially render an infantryman invisible. Seriously. Apparently being developed in Canada, the technology has the full support of the United States and Canadian militaries both of which are very interested in the possibilities of such technology when it becomes deployable. The science behind the concept seen in The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films seemingly bends lights around the wearer, rendering them invisible. Reportedly being developed with fighter pilots forced to eject in hostile territory, the camouflage would ultimately be worn by full units of infantry in the future, leaving an enemy not only physically destabilized, but psychologically as well. A ghost military engaging in combat operations is a terrifying proposition.
3. Electron Laser
The Free Electron Laser is another of the U.S. Navy’s forays into harnessing laser technology to be a primary weapon to shoot down missiles, rockets and enemy aircraft. Beyond the abilities of the laser system, which runs on high speed electrons running through a magnetic tube, the laser will be capable of sensing, tracking and targeting the enemy as well as sharing information with command. While this type of laser has been used in many non-military fields for years, the U.S. Navy has only recently commissioned contracts to build prototypes of the weapon. As of yet, there has only been one prototype demonstration, with an operational prototype expected to be available by 2018.
2. Hybrid Insects
The brainchild of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is a division of the United States Department of Defense, the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems program is something truly astounding. The aim is to create almost cyborg-like insects, by implanting the bugs with mechanical devices during the early stages of the insects’ metamorphosis. From there, the insects would essentially be remote controlled and could then be planted wherever the military chooses, with the ultimate goal being surveillance on difficult to locate targets, or also as a means to enter heavily controlled spaces traditional surveillance methods would be unable to access. The thought of mechanical surveillance bugs is actually quite chilling, and could have much further implications than merely military.
1. Synthetic Organisms
An extremely ambitious project, again headed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), it is difficult to fully comprehend the purpose and ramifications of the BioDesign Synthetic Organisms project. In essence, the project aims to completely override evolution and create an engineered organism that can defy death, but transversely can also be destroyed with a kill switch. If this sounds like the film Universal Solider then you would be correct in your assessment. DARPA’s aim with the project is to “maintain peak soldier abilities and then restore those abilities as soon as possible after an injury. This will include the development of advanced prosthetics (featuring mind-controlled limbs), neural interfaces, the ability to survive blood loss, and even neurotechnological solutions to treat psychological trauma such as PTSD.” The ‘super soldier’ will allegedly also have a loyalty code implanted in its DNA as well to keep them fighting for the right side. While DARPA and many commentators have said that the project has made astonishing headway, the reality of seeing a Universal Soldier in real-life combat anytime soon is highly unlikely.