Predict which five species weapons will have the greatest impact on the fighting in the future, is very problematic, since the very nature of wars is mobile and constantly changing. Those weapons systems that can change the course and outcome of a major confrontation between two armies, say, the Chinese and the American, will be useless in an asymmetrical scenario when troops fight in urban environments (for example, the Israeli army with the Palestinian partisans in Gaza or the Lebanese Hezbollah »In the suburbs of Beirut.
The fifth-generation stealth warplanes in the world can fundamentally make a difference in some conditions, but because of their tremendous speed and inability to hover in place, they are not suitable for detecting and destroying small units of freedom fighters operating in the city, not to mention that in the fight with several militants armed with AK-47, these vehicles would be extremely uneconomical. Equipped with "invisibility cloaks" and light machine guns with "smart ammunition," special forces will be much more efficient, and their actions will be much cheaper.
Another difficult point is the definition of a revolution in weapons design. Should we measure its effectiveness only with the measures of destructive impact and the number of losses? Or vice versa - the ability of weapons to achieve the goal with minimal loss of human lives? What about the “weapon”, which proactively deprives the enemy of the ability to conduct military operations, eliminating the chances of starting a war with the use of kinetic weapons?
Bearing in mind the nature of the war, depending on different scenarios, we can still try to compile a list of weapons systems, mainly in the development stage, which, although briefly, can change the course of the war. Since we will try to find a balance between the traditional war and the fighting of irregular formations, our list will initially be incomplete. But he will demonstrate trends in the forms of warfare that will influence our world for many more years.
5. Hyper Stealth or Quantum Stealth
Using metamaterials found in nature, scientists create soft light-guide materials that significantly reduce the thermal and visual characteristics of the target. The technology of such materials is quite simple, although skeptics are still not sure about them and say that they will believe when they do not see them. “Adaptive camouflage” reproduces what is behind the object covered by the invisibility cloak, refracting the light around it.
The consequences of such technology for the military are self-evident. The Invisible Cloak will allow anyone, both a simple soldier and an elite commando, to act on enemy territory unnoticed. At the very least, it will give them plenty of time to seize the initiative. Such materials will allow reducing losses during combat operations, at the same time increasing the possibilities for inflicting surgically accurate and sudden attacks on the enemy, as well as carrying out sabotage actions and killings.
The Canadian firm demonstrated its material to two control groups from the US Army and two from the Canadian as well as federal counter-terrorism units.
Of course, such materials will also have a serious impact on the course of hostilities if they fall into the hands of non-state forces, such as guerrilla groups and terrorist groups.
4. Electromagnetic railguns
The electromagnetic rail gun uses a magnetic field, not an explosive charge and not fuel. This magnetic field throws a projectile a long distance at a speed of 7240-9000 kilometers per hour. The developed technology has demonstrated its ability to shoot a projectile over a distance of 100 nautical miles using 32 megajoule energy.
The increased speed and range of the railgun gives a number of advantages both in offensive and defensive combat. These are both high-precision strikes, which make it possible to withstand even the most modern zone defense systems, and air defense against targets on approach. Another advantage of this technique is that it eliminates the need to store hazardous explosives and flammable materials, which are necessary for firing and launching conventional projectiles.
The US Navy Research and Development Authority has been developing such an electromagnetic rail gun with the 2005 of the year. The goal of the current stage of the project, launched in 2012, is to check the survivability of the barrel and the rate of fire.
Over time, the US Navy hopes to increase the range of the railgun to 200 nautical miles using 64 megajoule energy. However, a single shot will require a tremendous current of six million amperes (this is more than the current that causes the northern lights). It will take years before scientists create capacitors capable of generating such energy, or materials for a gun, which will not be torn to pieces with each shot.
In order to keep up with the sailors, the ground forces are developing their own version of the electromagnetic rail gun. Rumor has it that China is working on its model. Satellite images that appeared at the end of 2010 indicate that the Chinese system is undergoing tests in Inner Mongolia at the tank-artillery range near Baotou.
3. Space weapon
Although the international community is actively opposing the deployment of weapons in outer space, leading countries continue to develop equipment that will turn the sky above us into another battlefield. The possibilities here are as limitless as they are unusual. These are lunar-based rocket launchers, and systems for capturing and retargeting asteroids at a target on the earth’s surface. Obviously, not all scenarios are technically feasible, and some will forever remain material for science fiction. But the individual breakthroughs of modern science to carry out in the state, and it will have a powerful impact on the nature of war.
One of the options is the installation on the orbiters of an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the nuclear and non-nuclear variant. By undermining a munition fired from a satellite at a high altitude, the belligerent will be able to deal a crushing blow to enemy power grids, satellites, control and communication systems, computer and reconnaissance architecture - that is, all that is necessary for the conduct of hostilities. Depending on the power of the used EMI-ammunition, as a result of the strike, you can turn off the whole country, and you can also apply more accurate strikes aimed specifically at the combat area. With the help of weapons of this type, in theory, a war can be ended without a single shot, at least against such an information-dependent adversary as the USA (but not against the Taliban or Hamas).
EMP munitions that are fired from platforms at lower altitudes, either with the help of ground-based missile systems (for example, intercontinental ballistic missiles), can be intercepted, or a preemptive strike can be applied to them. But satellite EMP weapons are unattainable for most countries, with the exception of those that have ground or airborne anti-satellite systems or orbiters with weapons on board. In addition, the response time to an attack from space will be much shorter, and this reduces the ability of the country under attack to intercept EMP weapons.
Another type of weapon, the interest in which is either amplified or weakened, is a high-power, space-based laser designed to intercept enemy ballistic missiles at the launch site (it is also called the active part of the trajectory). The advantage of this interception is that an attempt to destroy a ballistic missile is made at the lowest speed of its flight, and therefore the chances of a successful interception are increased.
Unlike theater defense systems currently used to intercept on the launch site (such as Aegis), which must be located near the enemy’s territory, laser space-based systems can operate at heights out of reach of the enemy, due to than he can not knock down or deactivate them before striking. As more countries and forces are now emerging that are acquiring the means of delivering long-range ballistic missiles to the target, which may also be in nuclear equipment, interest in laser interceptors, as well as willingness to fund expensive programs for their development, will increase. But the problem is still how to create powerful chemical laser systems for satellites.
2. Hypersonic cruise missiles and the "global lightning strike"
If hypersonic cruise missiles existed in the middle of the 1990s, the United States would have been able to rid the world of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden much earlier by doing this in Afghanistan, and not in Pakistan.
Having the ability to accurately deliver warheads over long distances, cruise missiles had an exceptional influence on modern warfare. But in our era, when a victory or a defeat is determined by a few minutes, these missiles have too low speed. After 1998 terrorists struck US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, cruise missiles launched from US Navy ships in the Arabian Sea took 80 minutes to fly to Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Using hypersonic rockets flying at speeds above 5 Mach numbers, Americans could hit the same targets in 12 minutes. This would be quite enough to quickly respond to the message of intelligence, which determined the location of the leaders of terrorists.
The drive to strike anywhere and to do so quickly led to the creation of the "global swift strike" program launched by the US military in 2001. They have focused on the development of the X-51A hypersonic cruise missile through a consortium that includes the U.S. Air Force, Boeing, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and the USAF laboratories. Russia, China and India are making some progress in developing technology with similar characteristics in non-nuclear equipment, in connection with which leading military analysts warn of an impending global strike arms race.
The US Navy is exploring the possibility of creating a hypersonic cruise missile to launch from a submarine.
As the 1998 example of the year shows, a global strike can serve different purposes. These are operations for the destruction of heads of state, control systems and other important targets, as well as precision and lightning strikes against mobile terrorist groups based on ground reconnaissance data. The exceptionally high speed of hypersonic cruise missiles and the ability to follow the folds of the terrain creates additional problems for their interception by air defense systems, and therefore they gain additional advantages during a non-nuclear war.
1. "Reasonable" unmanned vehicles
Perhaps the most important event in the defense industry over the past decade has been the emergence of unmanned vehicles. As technology evolved, unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones,” quickly assumed the functions that traditionally fell within the remit of man. Their take-off was so rapid that, according to some commentators, one day the UAV will completely replace the pilots.
But today's devices, starting with sapper robots, underwater mini-submarines, ship-based reconnaissance helicopters, and ending with assassin drones, are still deprived of reason and require at least minimal human participation. The control of most platforms is still carried out remotely by man (although the level of automation is higher here), and important elements of a combat mission, for example, detecting and tracking a target, as well as making a decision to launch a missile on a target still require human control.
But the situation may soon change, because scientists are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence and may in the future create UAVs capable of making decisions on their own, on which a person's life and death depend. Of course, unmanned vehicles, and robots in general are not reasonable in human understanding. But thanks to the advances in computer science, machines are becoming increasingly familiar with the situation and are adapting to it. Since the characteristics of unmanned vehicles are constantly being improved, someday they will be able to act on the principle of “shot-and-forget” and will acquire a much larger range of attention and vitality than a human being. They will be able to hang over the target for several hours, and then instantly make a decision about striking when such an opportunity arises. Moreover, there are more and more incentives for the transfer of combat functions and the right to make a deadly decision to machines, as the cost of training and maintaining soldiers is constantly increasing (there is another drawback in the use of soldiers: they have families and loved ones waiting for them).
To give robots a license to kill is quite a logical next step in a modern war, more and more resembling a video game. Their use will further alienate the attacker from the victim, and this will lower the psychological threshold for the use of force. When the decision is made to transfer to the drones full-time combat duty, there will be an incentive to make them as “free” as possible, since the side acting faster, with a minimum of delays in making decisions and without human participation, will prevail in military confrontation.