The Future of Warfare Page 2

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Army Future Force SoldierComputers will play a much bigger part in all aspects of modern and future warfare. Special forces units are already using a special type of battle gear and clothing that has computer components built into them. These can monitor a soldiers heart rate, blood pressure and position on the battlefield. Game-wise, the closest thing to this would have to be, I’d say, the HEV (Hazardous EnVironment) Suit in Half-Life. All this info is displayed on a screen on a small unit carried by the soldier or onto a flip-down eye-piece.

The use of nano-technology and even exoskeletons have also been looked at, and the sight of ‘synthetic’ soldiers and cyborgs (CYBernetic ORGanisms) on the battlefield may soon be more than just the wildest science fiction. Again, for a game comparison, I’d say that the player character in Deus Ex fits this most closely. This highly advanced type of soldier, is envisaged to eventually replace human forces, especially those who are needed at high-priority strategic points, where casualties could be high. No human soldiers would have to be in the line-of-fire, meaning less deaths. This in turn, would seemingly boost morale amongst the humans.

These robotic units would also have more energy and stamina, meaning bigger hand-held weapons and more ammo could be carried, if needed, and as food and sleep wouldn’t be a must, night-long guard duty would no longer have to be the dread of all troops. The power supply has always been a burden on the mobile battlefield. With ever-increasing computers and electronics — all this has to be powered somehow. Now, to replace cumbersome and limited-use batteries, solar-powered cells are being developed and tested. So, theoretically, during daytime missions, a soldiers power would be recharged as fast as it gets used — creating the image of an “unlimited” power supply.

We already have infantry weapons in service that utilize computer technology. One such unit, in addition to a standard 5.56mm rifle, also has a 20mm grenade launcher. This can fire a specially designed “airburst” grenade very accurately by programming the built-in computer on the gun to set target range. By setting target range, it is possible to make the round explode in the air, above the intended target, doing much more damage over a wider area than if it actually hit. This is specifically intended to clear buildings in the ever increasing danger of combat in urban environments, where house clearance is still one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs to do, and where civilian casualties are highest.

Ammunition types for small arms are also being developed to give the soldier more punch and penetrating power by constructing armor-piercing-type rounds, much like those used by new era tanks, but only on a much smaller scale. Of course, an array of non-lethal weaponry will be available also. Until recently only used by police and security forces, the Army will use ‘pepper spray’ and ‘stun guns’. Pepper spray is really just a generic term for any hand-held unit that squirts out an irritant liquid, and a stun gun can be anything from a gun that fires rubber bullets to high-voltage electrical shock devices such as tasers. No doubt conventional ballistic ammo will be seen for years to come, but it will differ in being “caseless”. This ammo-type doesn’t have the bullet case that gets ejected when the round is fired. Instead, the bullet head is encased in explosive that obviously disintegrates upon firing. Thus, no bullet case is ejected. This method is already employed by some infantry arms today and due to the fashion of this type of cartridge, more can be held in a single magazine than normal ammo. To accompany this new era of small arms, metals will no longer, and are no longer, used for the weapons body. Synthetic materials and high-impact plastics replace the heavy metals, so that the weapon is lighter, stronger, and needs less attention. As you can probably imagine, some quite futuristic “space” designs are available. Remember the Pulse Rifle in the film “Aliens”?

"As you can probably imagine, some quite futuristic "space" designs are available."Modular rifle systems seem to be the way most of the more advanced armies are heading. This is to replace existing service rifles with units that are easier to maintain, clean and upgrade. Basically, it’s like a “one size fits all” scenario whereparts can be interchanged according to the soldiers needs. Instead of having a separate sub-machine gun, assault rifle and sniper rifle for instance, this new idea makes use of a universal main weapon stock where parts such as barrels, sights, butts and grips can be changed over to quickly convert your single weapon into a series of weapon variations.

So, if you wanted a sniper rifle and at the moment you had the assault rifle configuration, you would probably want to swap the barrel for a longer one with a bipod attached. Then swap the low magnification combat sight over for a high-powered telescopic night-vision-capable sort, and the standard-type butt and grips for pieces which can be adjusted to suit the shooters needs. Finished sniping? Need to get in close? Then exchange the long barrel for a short one with a built in silencer. Take off the bulky scope and replace with a laser dot sight and remove the butt and replace with a lightweight folding one. All these parts could be carried by each soldier to give him the ability to cover all types of combat situations, quickly, on the move, without the need for assistance. The caliber of such a weapon would have to be carefully considered in order to make it versatile in all these conditions. Small enough and with enough stopping power for close-in, but the ability to travel great ranges with high muzzle-velocity for targets further away.

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