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WAR - FUTURE WEAPONS
is set to dramatically change in the 21st century.
Major set-pieces battles of the size and complexity of Desert
Storm will increasingly grow less and less.
Instead, numerous small scale “police actions” will become
the order of the day. Standing
in the vanguard of these will be the USA, acting in its self-proclaimed
role as global supercop. On
the rare occasion that pitched battles are fought, battalions drawn
from many nations will gang up on individual states, kicking them
observers predict that future war is more likely to be fought on home
streets, rather than the desert wastelands of the middle east. But they warn that home streets - as we now know them - may
themselves become a thing of the past.
Alvin Toffler, author, futurist and Pentagon war-game player
in his book “War and Anti-War - Survival at the Dawn of the 21st
Century (LittleBrown 1994) looks at the potential fragmentation of
nation states into zones of wealth and poverty.
He goes on to portray a possible future where nation states
have been replaced by “…hundreds, even thousands of mini-states, city-states,
regions and noncontiguous political entities.”
Petrella, director of science and technology forecasting for the European
Community agrees. His
view is that by the mid 21st Century, the “real decision-making
powers… will be transnational companies in alliance with city-regional
governments.” These Petrella
believes, could form a “high-tech archipelago… amid seas of impoverished
such as these have led the Pentagon to define new strategies.
One, known as “Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MUOT),”
is the “capability to operate and conduct military operations in built-up
areas.” Remove the jargon
and glitzy phrases and we are left, simply, with “street-fighting.”
But street-fighting with a difference.
new MUOT soldier is dubbed an “individual warfighter.”
Wearing improved small arms “protective vests” they will be
clothed in “multi-spectral signature reducing materials.”
These are fabrics designed to reflect infra-red heat and other
detectable emissions. Thus
invisible, the warfighter is to be air inserted into urban terrain
in a covert manner, where he will undertake both combat and non-combat
operations. The latter
is a barely concealed euphemism for crowd control.
invisibility to the enemy - whoever they may be - is just one of a
number of MUOT capabilities.
New “high resolution” helmets will carry miniature video cameras
instantly relaying images, via satellite to HQ.
The same sensors will also aid in the acquisition of “targets,”
via use of a range of night-vision, “through-wall sensors” and other
This Pentagon vision of a 21st century Darth Vadar,
will in addition have some ingenious weapons to back him up.
of these is a “counter-sniper system.”
A portable computer which is able to track a moving bullet
fired by a hidden sniper, locate the shooter’s precise position and
return pinpoint accurate counter-fire in the blink of an eye.
In addition, it is almost certain that sophisticated laser
and radio frequency weapons will also be key MUOT weapons in the new-age
armoury. Not surprisingly,
developments in these areas remain Top Secret.
there are even more exotic advances on the drawing board.
Some of these fall in the realm of “Bio-systems.” During 1992,
US Green Beret, Major General Sidney Schachnow, presented a “restricted”
lecture to the John F Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg,
North Carolina. He spoke
on such sci-fi subjects as “Synthetic Telepathy,” “Surreptitiously
Acquired DNA Identification,” and “Whole Blood Replacement.” Seeking more information The X Factor, phoned Fort Bragg.
An embarrassed spokesman told us that General Schachnow could
not locate his notes for this lecture.
then spoke to a number of medical experts, asking them what “whole
blood replacement” entails?
Dundee’s Professor Derek Pounder, felt that “synthetic blood”
could have considerable benefits for battlefield casualties.
It would be a critical life-saving development, he thought.
Another expert mused carefully before replying.
“Theoretically,” he said, synthetic blood would possess “huge
oxygen carrying” abilities.
Being able to infuse such into special forces troops prior
to sending them on missions under Artic conditions - or in mountainous
terrain - would enable them to operate with almost super-human endurance
and ability. If this
sounds fantastic, it’s nothing compared to other concepts under discussion.
Schacknow’s reference to secretly acquiring DNA identification remains
largely unexplained. However,
there are dark rumours surrounding the secret development of genetic
weapons. Some fear these
may emerge as the 21st Century weapons of mass extermination.
The International Committee of the Red Cross acknowledge that
such weapons “… seem technically applicable on a large scale,” adding
ominously “… the possibility exists of their misuse for political
ends…” It is known that
work, especially in the former Soviet Union, has been conducted on
virulent infectious diseases which are then seeded with “virulence
genes.” This procedure
can increase the potency of a killer disease almost beyond measure.
addition, considerable concerns have been raised over “Gene Specific
Biological Weapons.” These
are said to be able to attack specific races.
Little is publicly known about them.
However, a 1994 US Military publication sketched out a fictional
war set in 2010. The
authors state “Certain biotechnical weapons - considered by some to
violate the biological warfare convention to which the United States
is a signatory - also may transgress American values regarding appropriate
means.” They continue
by discussing the public reaction to these weapons that would target
“…Africans, Jews, Koreans, Hispanics etc.”
America is a vast melting pot of races and ethnic groups -
who collectively account for a significant portion of the entire US
the authors do not mention European or Anglo-Saxon minorities in their
potential “ethnic-cleansing” targeting list?
ethnic concerns aside, developments in Bioengineering has advanced
so rapidly that some experts now talk in terms of “para-humans.” These
are biological entities - half human-half machine - that are set to
become the new warriors of the new age.
It’s a case of Robocop coming of age.
But even supporters agree that such spectre’s are, thankfully,
still a long way off.
considerations of blood, biology and Robocop’s grandchildren don’t
come into play when it comes to micro-robotic soldiers.
Robotics developments have leap-frogged over the last decade,
along with ever smaller minaturisation.
Lewis Franklin, a former vice president of the massive US defence
contractor TRW, anticipates an irruption of military robot warriors
during the next two decades.
Experts believe these could be “custom-designed” to operate
in the harshest battlefield conditions.
Their advantage, they say, is the cheapness of production over
more regular weapon systems.
decades, pilotless reconnaissance aircraft have flitted above battlefields
collecting raw intelligence.
But soon, miniaturised versions - not much larger than a shoe-box
- boasting a broad range of “sensors” will enter service.
Accompanying them are likely to be a host of miniature “smart”
robot mines. Seeded from
aircraft, these burrow beneath the surface, laying in wait for enemy
tanks. Hailed as the
new, safe way to seed mine fields, they can be programmed not to explode
under direct pressure. This,
their adherents claim, will minimise human casualties.
However, detractors, even inside the armed forces, are worried
by visions of smart machines running amok.
these reservations, developers are ploughing fast ahead.
The successful construction of an electric motor no more than
a millimetre long, has led to an explosion of new ideas.
These include “robot-ants” - tiny mechanisms possessing artificial
intelligence computer chips. So small as be almost invisible, it could be of tremendous
value, not only as a weapon but as a spy.
Specialists in this field speak of the coming dawn when these
devices will be self-replicating - literally breeding themselves.
They are said to be best suited to infiltrating and destroying
electronic battlefield equipment.
Rendered electronically blind and deaf, enemy formations can
then be attacked by more conventional means.
may be accomplished by “Arnold,” a large robot field gun.
Arnold, too, will be kitted-out with a sillicone brain.
This will allow “him” to harness his advanced optical and acoustic
sensors to locate a target and then deliver a barrage of unerringly
accurate firepower down on it.
Planned to be in production by 2002, Arnold will not only “sense”
targets but autonomously decide when to open fire and on what target.
Arnold, however, has an Achilles heel; his size.
enough to be easily seen by satellites or pilotless spy aircraft,
“he” is destined to come under attack by “Aerobots.”
These are canisters that can be dispensed from robot aircraft
and then steer themselves close to their assigned target. Once there, dozens of tiny micro-weapons are disgorged and
pre-programmed to artfully sneak up on the slumbering giant.
Gaining entry, they set about attacking circuits and sillicone
processors with minute doses of acid.
The result is catastrophic.
For all it’s high-tech components, Arnold, the robot-gun -
and other autonomous smart weapons - are rendered brain dead.
though many of these future weapons come under the concept of “non-lethality”
- in these examples, machines killing machines - bloodless war is
still a long way off. Stingray
is a US Army laser weapon mounted on a Bradley armoured vehicle.
It can accurately be described as “dual-use.” Possessing the ability to refine it’s energy output, it could
simply blind an enemy soldier.
Turn the dial up to maximum and the soldier will be surgically
sliced apart. Acoustic
weapons also have this dual ability.
At low output they can be used to demoralise, stun and even
physically destabilise attacking troops.
Wind the power up and the same weapon is excruciating and extremely
deadly - a modern sonic equivalent of Joshua’s trumpet, which with
one blast brought down the walls of Jericho.
least in this whole battery of new war-fighting strategies is “Cyberwar.”
This, simply, is Information warfare, where soldiers in suits
wrestle with software packages, and data algorithms.
This is warfare that sounds almost gentle, but don’t be fooled.
The artful manipulation of information in the 21st
Century could turn regiment against regiment, send enemy aircraft
plunging to earth, or target robot guns on their own troops.
Whoever wins the information battle will win the war, it is
believed. Moreover, unseen, unheard and unknown wars could be fought
in cyberspace that never reach the light of day.
it be machine-war, infowar or microwar or bloody-war, one thing is
certain. The 21st
century is destined to remain a battlefield.
As Riccardo Petrella observes, the casualties will remain the
it seems is not on the agenda.
re-emergence of “Private” armies
is set to repeat itself. The
re-emergence of private armies is hot on the agenda. Author, Marvin Toffler, argues for the creation of “volunteer
mercenary forces organised by private corporations.” These, he suggests, could “fight wars on a contract-fee basis
for the United Nations.” Toffler’s
idea springs from the growing unwillingness of governments to send
“…their own young men and women to die in combat…” and so the answer
is a “rapid deployment force for hire.”
He adds that such peacekeeping corporations could be allowed
“to do what it takes, ranging from legalized bribery to propaganda
to limited military intervention…”
Unfortunately, the “seas of impoverished humanity” - you and
I - will not form part of the corporate equation.
“Prowler” the stupid-smart Robot guard
from a distance of up to 19 miles, “The Prowler” is the brainchild
of huge defence contractor, Bechtel Corporation.
Able to circle the perimeter of designated installations, the
robot is jam-packed with high-tech sensors.
Laser range-finders enable it to maintain precise position
and other electronic gizmo’s help it easily traverse difficult terrain.
Not least it can be heavily armed with a wide variety of weapons.
However, there are recognised problems.
Terrorists smart enough to manipulate the robot’s computer
programme could gain free entry to a military installation.
Once inside the re-programmed robot then stands guard over
them, ready to open fire on anyone sent to stop them.
weapon - the Electromagnetic pulse tank
Defence Research Agency has grand ideas for the future of tank warfare.
The EM tank, they think, may be the answer.
With a budget of £10 million over three years, things are not
going exactly to plan. However
the concept is creating considerable excitement.
The tank, if it gets off the ground, may become so powerful
and accurate that it will revolutionise tank warfare.
The idea is to harness potent bolts of electromagnetic energy
to propel metal darts out of the tank’s gun tube.
Able to dispense with normal chemical propellants, the EM tank
should be capable of extremely rapid firing.
Just a few could clear a battlefield of opposing tanks in short
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