If you’ve ever watched a science fiction movie about wars fought in the future, you might have been awed by the advanced technology storytellers have imagined. Some of these weapons might have seemed too far fetched to actually ever come to fruition. But that is the same mentality from previous generations with earlier science fiction writers imagined things like pocket technology that could store and access all the information in the world or fighter jets. Engineers and defense contractors are always one step ahead of people’s expectation, and that futuristic weapons technology you think is decades away from being realized is probably in development now to be used within our lifetimes. Here are 10 futuristic weapons soon to be unleashed on the modern battlefield.
1. Drone Assassins
You may have seen The Terminator and though killer robots were too ridiculous to take seriously as a future war technology. But aerial drones have been bombing and eliminating targets for half a decade. Now, military engineers are preparing to introduce similar automated or remotely-controlled weapons on the battlefield. The Modular Advanced Arms Robotic System (MAARS) is a small tracked vehicle that comes with night vision, loads of weaponry and targeting systems. Also, The Black Knight is an actual automated small tank that has greater maneuverability due to not having to be operated by a human crew.
2. Battlefield Lasers
Being able to take out outer automated weapons systems from a great distance is the only deterrence against enemy drones without risking human lives. There are two current laser systems already in used or being developed: the LaWS and the Boeing Laser Avenger. The Laser Weapons Systems (LaWS) has already been fitted to naval battleship for the purpose of shooting down missiles, drones and even sink enemy ships and is hoped to one day replace all line-of-sight weapons when it’s energy output is eventually improved. The Avenger from Boeing is a one kilowatt energy beam transmitter that is designed to take out any large scale enemy aerial drones in the area or detonate explosive from long distance.
3. Cybernetic Insects
If you’ve ever watched an old cheesy spy movie, you’ve probably witnessed a scene where an insect infiltrated an enemy compound with a miniature camera mounted on it’s back. It may seem silly, but defense contractors are actually working on a program meant to turn an insect into a highly sophisticated surveillance device. It’s called Hi-MEMS or the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electrical Mechanical System, where insects are raised from the pupa stage and outfitted with circuitry to allow them to be remote controlled. Attaching miniature surveillance equipment to them transforms these bugs into mini super-spies.
4. Powered Exoskeletons
For those who watched the movie Edge of Tomorrow, the idea of a powered exoskeleton seems more plausible – if a little unnecessary. In actuality, a powered exoskeleton could aid battlefield soldiers by allows them to carry excessive weight while not getting tired as they cross great distances and normal running speed. This actual in-development project – the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) – features mechanized titanium legs with on-board computerized load and level monitoring to stay in sync with the wearer so they won’t fatigue when carrying up to 200 lbs on the battlefield over extended periods of time.
5. Advanced Camouflage
You may have envied Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak, but you might be surprised that the US military is dreaming up much more effective ideas. Adaptive and Quantum camouflage is the wave of the future. Adaptive Camouflage for armored vehicles uses hexagonal modules on a vehicle’s surface to mask infrared sensors and display other thermal images that might confuse an enemy’s infrared detection. Quantum camouflage for soldiers is hoped to actually bend light and render the wearer – such as a battlefield sniper – virtually invisible.
6. Plasma Force Fields
As modern ordinance become more concussive and includes better tracking systems, the need to extend defensive capabilities beyond just armor has heightened. Enter Boeing’s latest proposal – a plasma force field that protects tanks by repelling or even absorbing shock waves from explosives. Using laser, electricity and microwave technology, Boeing is hoping to create a super heated interference field of plasma around a target that will hopefully absorb the kinetic energy of an explosion.
7. Electromagnetic Rail Guns
These are already being tested on board naval vessels, but their targeting systems still have a long ways to go before being viable for actual combat. A EM Rail gun uses electromagnetic energy to launch a steel projectile – thus eliminating the need for propellant like in a missile or rocket. This lightens the load on such a projectile and thus allows it to be launched at incredible higher speeds at greater distances – up to 6000 miles an hour for a target 110 miles away.
8. Tracking Bullets
DARPA is currently working on a .50 caliber bullet that is outfitted with on on-board guidance system that allow it to operate small fins on the end of the bullet to make course corrections in flight to take environmental factors into account! This program, called the “Exacto” program, hopes to use these for both vehicle weapons systems as well as for troops on the ground.
9. Centrifugal Guns
Another system hoping to remove propellant from the process of firing projectile or ordinance is a centrifugal gun. This system operates by using a spinning disk to produce enough kinetic energy to hurl projectiles at targets at speeds up to 8000 feet per second. Limited to use on naval vessels, it’s primarily aimed for use with .308 and .50 caliber balls to replace reconnaissance-vehicle mounted machine guns since there is no recoil or muzzle flash.
10. Thunder Generators
Finally, an idea so wild that only the Israeli military could turn it into reality is a thunder gun. Meant for use as crowd control, a thunder generator uses pulse detonation technology to funnel explosions into a huge resonant barrel to project high-velocity shock waves at targeted areas. Used a longer distances by the Israelis to scare birds from grain and disperse large crowds from 100 feet away, military engineers are hoping to modify future versions for use at targets closer than 50 feet. At this distance, anyone hit by this thunder generator suffers immediate death.