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The Future of Military Technology - Five Developments in defence technology are changing the nature of modern warfare

November 2017 | 50 pages | ID: FC0DFFA3C44EN

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The Future of Military Technology - Five Developments in defence technology are changing the nature of modern warfare


Defense technology is advancing at quite a rate of knots in 2017 and some remarkable new abilities are available for militaries to purchase. From robotic mules through to drone swarms and rail guns there are multiple areas of strong innovation in the defense industry. Some of these technologies have the potential to change how warfighting works in the future and in a new world where the balance of power internationally is more scattered between different multiple nations many are preparing for the concerning prospect of state versus state conflict in the future. However whilst some are game changing there are plenty of other technologies that are a black hole for money and resources, producing impractical, complex, expensive and unworkable machines. The key task though in this period of rapid development is recognizing the full implications of using a new technology indiscriminately, before it becomes a new, dangerous and counterproductive threat to world security.

  • What technology absorbing the attention of modern military planners?
  • Where is the money going and is it being spent wisely?
  • Are all of the new technologies emerging actually practical?
  • What can we expect to see in future wars and does this make the world safer or less safe?
  • Examine how military technology is developing and what the militarys are spending their money on.
  • Learn what trends in warfare are driving the changes being seen.
  • See how just how useful new technology is and whether or not money is being wasted on certain projects.
  • Examine how these changes might alter modern military strategy and just how the global balance of power is changing.
  • One of the largest levels of military investment is going into procuring equipment that can operate automatically, that doesn’t require human operators and can back up units on the ground. This is funneling into all manner of equipment, from automated attack drones, self-driving convoys, automated submarine hunters and many other types of kit. The potential for protecting soldiers is very high, taking over some of the most high-risk jobs and working to protect troops on the ground. However, a lot of this technology comes with very difficult obstacles to navigate including the implementation of this equipment into a fighting unit and protecting it from cyber-attack, but beyond that there are a wide variety of moral and ethical dilemmas to negotiate too. Furthermore, much of this equipment will require a complete rewriting of military strategy and doctrine and for the time being there will be relatively incremental steps to introduce this tech, rather than giant leaps forward.
  • Stealth technology can be a complete disruptor in various military equipment types. The ability to avoid detection and attack or defend targets with the element of surprise, or complete surveillance missions under an enemy’s nose gives one military a critical edge over another. However, a significant problem with the technology is that the expense required to acquire it can be staggering. The cost involved in fact can be so high that it delays development by years in some cases and requires an enormous amount of secrecy in the design in order to keep it secret and still effective from other militaries. There may be much better ways to achieve the same effect particularly when considering some of the new technology options available today. Multiple countries are still pursuing stealth options and there are some much simpler and less expensive ways to achieve an element of stealth.
  • In the context of all the technological opportunities that are being experimented with in the defense sector, modern military strategy and doctrine will have to change too, right down to the core of the basic concepts of how to fight an opponent. Couple with this, the ethics and morality of how two human opponents should engage each other in a new world where automated machines are doing both the majority of the work and the killing itself, and a great deal will have to change in the coming years should many of the new technologies be adopted. The breakdown of the current structures of global power from a unilateral to a multilateral system is also likely to affect how common warfare is and whether there will be conventional warfare in future. Technology is producing some disruptive change in the way that warfare works from strategy through to power balances between states.
Executive Summary
Using autonomy and robotics to resupply, protect and attack
Stealth technology is highly desired, but it might not be worth it
Fire systems are becoming smarter, not all advances are practical though
Soldier systems and survivability have never been more important
Military strategy and the global balance of power is changing
Using autonomy and robotics to resupply, protect and attack
Autonomous trucks are still some way away, but leader follower system shows promise
Robotic mules could provide excellent support opportunities
Delivery drones could vastly improve battlefield logistics
Drones are tried and tested but have significant flaws currently
The US and China are locked in a swarm arms race, quantity versus quality
Sea hunter: one of the experiments with autonomous sea vehicles
Automated tanks will start to trickle into the market very soon
Currently these machines are far too expensive to be worth purchasing in many cases
Stealth technology is highly desired but it might not be worth it
The F-35 is the starkest example of a stealth program gone out of control
SU35 doesn’t worry about stealth, but focuses on firepower, range and maneuverability and is much cheaper
Despite the lessons learned from the F35 program, other nations are following suit
Stealth is branching out into realms beyond just the air force
Stealth land options are now being used and they may actually have more merit
Stealth over numbers might be a long-term mistake
Stealth technology might become obsolete over time
Stealth technology has had a checkered history
Fire systems are becoming smarter
Smart munitions being developed for a variety of weapons
EXACTO self-guided bullets for snipers at live-fire testing
Self-guiding bullets have been in development by DARPA for almost a decade
Teledyne Scientific and Imaging also working on self-guided ammo
Self-guided bullets also being tested by other countries and could proliferate
MAD-FIRES being developed for artillery shells and machine guns
Millennium Challenge 2002 highlighted serious deficiencies in US naval doctrine
First application will be on naval cannon, but could move towards machineguns
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin developing weapons on MAD-FIRES platform
BAE and General Atomics have railguns in development
Railguns’ effectiveness marred by power and coil consumption
Power consumption also inhibiting railgun deployment
Navy is looking into workarounds to effectively deploy railguns
Direct energy systems already have limited deployment
Laser system has been deployed on US warship since 2014
More powerful lasers are being developed
Airborne lasers under development by Lockheed Martin
Biggest obstacle to deployment is size of equipment
Soldier systems and survivability have never been more important
Soldier modernization programs are stimulating growth in the defense sector
New ballistic head protection systems are due to be introduced in 2020
New armor systems are in constant development, improving survivability drastically
Liquid armor technology is combat ready and offers some significant benefits
Synthetic fish scale like body armor is being developed
Carbon nanotube technology is being applied to body armor
New clothing is being developed to protect against the environment much more efficiently
New troop carriers about to replace a 40-year old US design
Further modification of solider kit to allow for electronic augmentations
Exoskeleton suits have been developed, but the projects have been deemed unworkable so far
New soldier system equipment is emerging in Russia and the USA
Military strategy and the balance of power
Drones and missiles may actually be counterproductive in many warzones
The global balance of power is changing and this might make war more likely between states
Increased complexity of warfare expands the realms of combat into soft power
Russia and Ukraine a blueprint of future wars to come with massive cyberwarfare
Speed is now critical, both in warfare terms and technological advance
A knockout blow is actually much more feasible in the current climate
Trump’s America has less international power and credibility and it causes concern everywhere
Procurement is now aimed once again at conventional warfare methods
Points of interest
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About MarketLine


Table 1: Drone strikes by US forces in 2016 civilians and total killed in non-warzone countries
Table 2: Chinese and US primary attack drone compared


Figure 1: Autonomous trucks during US army autonomy test
Figure 2: Lockheed Martin's Squad Mission Support System and Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog
Figure 3: UK last mile research project
Figure 4: Coalition v Russia: Alleged civilian casualty events in Syria and Iraq Oct 2015 - Oct 2016
Figure 5: US Navy’s Sea Hunter autonomous submarine hunter
Figure 6: Russia’s T14 Armata
Figure 7: BAE Systems’ Armed Robotic Combat Vehicle
Figure 8: Ukraine's SpetsTechnoExport UGV
Figure 9: Lockheed Martin F35
Figure 10: Estimated unit cost of current fighters
Figure 11: Comparison of J-20, F22 and T-50
Figure 12: Stealth ship the USS Zumwalt
Figure 13: Saab MCS stealth camouflage system
Figure 14: EXACTO design
Figure 15: Bushmaster MK 38 25-mm aboard USS Boxer
Figure 16: BAE Systems' electromagnetic railgun
Figure 17: AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System on the USS Ponce
Figure 18: 2020 US Soldier Protection System
Figure 19: BAE Systems liquid armor
Figure 20: Carbon nano-tube membrane from Lawrence Livermore
Figure 21: US army, BAE built new AMPV replacement for the M113
Figure 22: Land Warrior Integrated Soldier System from US army
Figure 23: Exo-suits from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin
Figure 24: General Atomics TALOS and Russian Central Research Institute exoskeleton systems respectively
Figure 25: China’s CH-5 Drone
Figure 26: Defense spending, 2000 & 2016 compared
Figure 27: Russia & Ukraine conflict map as of 2017
Figure 28: NATO members defense spending 2010-2016 CAGR and 2017 estimated growth

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