Prospective armament for the US Army

Robots. Here it is, the future of the war - at least that is what the Pentagon believes. Military designers are developing automated systems that should complement, or even replace, living soldiers, sailors and pilots. Suppose the enemy puts in service especially dangerous, almost silent submarines. We will create an unmanned anti-submarine ship that will continuously track down a hidden enemy. Has the enemy put into service a new generation of air defense systems? We’ll release a flock of drones that will stun and blind these radars with electronic attacks. Are roads mined to supply the army? We will send clouds of unmanned helicopters that deliver anything to the troops.

The robotic revolution is also a way to somehow satisfy increasingly stringent requirements in terms of budget expenditures. In development, automated systems are very expensive, but it turns out to be much cheaper to maintain than live personnel. They do not need any training or treatment, their death does not imply condolences to relatives.

Not every military robot is a mobile combat vehicle. Sometimes it can be a small device, such as an automatic sight. Once in the hands of a good sniper, he will halve the number of sniper crews. However, in order to completely replace living people on the battlefield, robots must learn to act independently, do without human control. “Future unmanned systems should become more autonomous, which will reduce communications infrastructure requirements and reduce the latency associated with decision-making, ” said General Mark Welch, chief of staff for the US Air Force. The robot is valuable not because it obeys the remote control, it must instantly make decisions in problem situations that pilots often encounter.

“So far, robots cannot compare with real infantry. But as soon as this gap disappears, the army will be able to disperse its forces, its actions will become less predictable, less vulnerable to asymmetric measures of the adversary, ”says Lieutenant John Burpot, professor of chemistry and biology at the US Military Academy at West Point. In Afghanistan, robotic helicopters have already proven their effectiveness in supply operations, thus protecting the marines from the dangers posed by roadside mines.

On the future battlefield, both man and the car are waiting for a lot of tests. By 2030, three out of five people around the world will live in urban settlements, and therefore the wars of the future are urban battles. “High-precision weapons, non-lethal weapons, and physical blockade weapons will play a huge role, ” says Lt. Col. Bruce Fleursheim, who teaches engineering and construction disciplines at West Point. Devices such as the "smart sight" will reduce collateral losses among civilians, since the target can be hit from the first shot from a distance of a kilometer. Snipers will use robotic devices remotely.

At sea, the United States is concerned that the marine arteries do not overlap. China is spreading its military influence throughout the Pacific region - because of this, the tactics of fighting naval clashes on the high seas are now coming to the fore. China adheres to the strategy, which the Pentagon calls the "organization of closed access zones", when the barrage fire of ground and air-based missiles should keep American ships far enough from the coast. In response, the U.S. Navy is developing cruise missiles, which, taking off from the ship's deck, can independently detect and hit targets that are 800 km away.

In addition, the Navy is armed with its own drones, which recently demonstrated the ability to solve the most difficult task in aviation - to take off from the swinging deck of an aircraft carrier and land on it. Unmanned reconnaissance and strike aircraft (UCLASS) will increase the range of the aircraft carrier group from 900 to 2, 700 km, so that the ships will be outside the water areas controlled by the main part of ground-based weapons. Next year, sailors will conduct a comparative analysis of such devices, created by various competing manufacturers.

Navy command does not forget about threats from low-tech weapons. Diesel-electric submarines can lurk in shallow water, which is problematic for sonar, presenting a threat to aircraft carrier groups with their anti-ship missiles. To hear the quiet buzz of such a boat in the discord of coastal shipping - "how to distinguish the sound of one automobile engine in city noise, " said Rear Admiral Frank Drenan, who leads the anti-submarine and mine forces command. To solve this problem, the Pentagon signed a contract with SAIC, a contractor from Virginia, for the construction of a sea hunter, who, armed with powerful echolocation equipment, will be able to track enemy submarines for months.

“This is one of the elements of our modern general line that focuses on strategic mobility, ” says Welch. “We must quickly adapt to the new situation and respond to new threats.”

Smart Rifle

Texas-based TrackingPoint has developed a semi-automatic rifle with an integrated sight that integrates a laser rangefinder, ballistic calculator, as well as many sensors that measure the parameters needed for ballistic calculations, a target tracking system and a Wi-Fi server. As a result, the rifle gives high accuracy of hitting from the first shot at a distance of over 700 m. The sight transfers the video image from its display to the head-mounted display, smartphone or tablet. Other fighters can use this video to pinpoint their targets. It will provide the command with a real-time picture of the battlefield. The military version of this sight arrived for testing in May of this year.

Guide to New Types of Military Equipment

In the same way as the new sight, the types of weapons described here, unmanned aerial vehicles and other military equipment designed and put into service will help the Pentagon conduct combat operations more efficiently and at the same time involve fewer soldiers in them.

Railgun

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] The idea of ​​firing artillery shells not with the pressure of powder gases, but with electromagnetic forces has been discussed for almost a hundred years. The US Navy has been dealing with this issue since 2005, developing a prototype railgun for use on ships. Such a gun promises a sufficient range to defeat enemy ships and support the landing when landing on land. The current prototype has a shot energy of 32 MJ, which allows you to disperse a 10-pound shell to a speed of 2500 m / s and throw it at a distance of 170 km. Railgun works as follows. An energy storage device (a bank of high voltage capacitors) is connected to two copper rails - positive (1) and negative (2). To make a shot, a powerful current pulse is passed from the positive to the negative rail through the conductive movable armature (3), in which the projectile (4) is laid. The interaction of the current in the armature with the magnetic field creates an Ampere force, which accelerates the armature along with the projectile along the rail to a tremendous speed. Having reached the end of the rails, the projectile is separated from the reinforcement (5) and flies towards the target at a speed eight times higher than the sound speed. The entire start sequence takes about 10 milliseconds. The first test shots from the ship are expected to be fired in 2016.

Mine detector

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] The Knifefish autonomous underwater vehicle is capable of detecting both floating and bottom mines using side-scan sonar. This six-meter device is driven by a lithium-ion battery. In accordance with a predetermined program, he can act under water for 16 hours. Troops will receive this unit in 2017.

Unmanned sea hunter

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] The ship, which is developed by SAIC, will go on 80-day voyages, covering over this time up to 6000 km. On board radars, lidars (laser locators) and other sensors will allow him to avoid collisions with other vessels, while he will track low-noise diesel-electric submarines. It is expected that the ship will be launched in mid-2015.

Enhanced Soldier Helmet

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] Modern helmets are made from para-aramid fabrics such as Kevlar. They have a good hold on splinters or low-speed bullets. The advanced combat helmet, which began to be adopted by the US Army and Marine Corps at the end of last year, is made of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) and is able to withstand the impact of a rifle bullet. It weighs about 1300 g, that is, no more than helmets of other types.

Body batteries

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] A variety of gadgets can do a good job for a soldier, but you have to pay for it: a lot of spare batteries are a lot of extra weight. In order not to carry them everywhere with you, Arotech has developed a soldier wearable integrated power supply system. The system is based on light and capacious zinc-air and lithium-ion batteries, from which the walkie-talkie, GPS-navigator and other devices are recharged. These thin batteries are sewn directly into the discharge vest. Such a system reduces the mass of the entire energy reserve by 30% compared to conventional batteries.

Night vision contact lenses

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] The University of Michigan created the first photodetector operating at room temperature and having a wide spectral sensitivity - from ultraviolet through the entire visible range to infrared. A photodetector made of two layers of transparent graphene (each of them is only one atom thick) can, together with an electronic circuit, be embedded inside the contact lens. Such a compact device would endow the soldier with a thermal vision that allows him to notice the thermal trail from cars, weapons and soldiers.

Tendon discharge exoskeleton

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] Medical statistics say that from 2003 to 2009, the number of injuries of the musculoskeletal system among soldiers increased tenfold. This is not surprising when you consider that soldiers have to carry backpacks of 30-40 kg. To solve the problem, West Point came up with a “hard exoskeleton with artificial tendons” (T-REX). This is a rigid frame made of high quality plastic on a 3D printer. It can be worn over an army boot. In the newest version, another 100 ultra-thin alloy strings with Flexinol shape memory are pulled onto this frame. They respond to electrical signals and contract like a spare set of muscles, giving the legs extra strength. A pair of such devices, which are powered by ordinary batteries and weigh only 650 g, the soldiers are already wearing in their backpacks.

Antidote against chemical weapons

[RICH_HTML type = imageset] [/ RICH_HTML] Chemical weapons are still hanging over us with a dumb deadly threat. During the attack, when every second counts, a soldier can stick to the skin such a patch that through hundreds of microneedles will supply the necessary antidote to the body.

The article “New Arsenal” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 9, September 2014).

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