The next big thing in military arms

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The next big thing in military arms

Post by books » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:19 am

What are your thoughts on where the evolution of military arms is headed?

Here's what I think will happen:
Currently: Carbines replace rifles
Next 5 years: US Army looks into pistol caliber SMGs for room-clearing operations
5-10 years: Indirect fire/Airburst munitions become standard at the squad level, replacing the grenadier.
10-15 years: Secondary "soft armor" woven into BDUs and boots, designed to protect against IEDs and light pistol fire. Kevlar helmets replaced with new polymer.
15-20 years: "Power armor" used for loading and unloading at bases and airstrips.
Next 20 years: "Power armor" finally sees its power and weight issue solved and begins being field tested as light armor mixed with infantry. "Big Dog" also sees field testing.

In general, I would expect to see more use of tactical explosives and armor geared towards protecting soldiers from non-rifle threats. I would also expect some form of of quickly deployed sensor "pods" that let them monitor an urban battlefield without having human eyes on target.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by USMCSergeant » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:36 am

In 20 years infantry field on ground operations will be special forces only with the use of some type of unmanned aircraft or soldier.

The main reason I say that is we've reached the level in fighter aircraft that the human body can barely handle the G-forces the plane exerts, and the next evolution will have to be unmanned.

I think the regular infantry will head that direction also.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Lucretius » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:44 am

USMCSergeant wrote:In 20 years infantry field on ground operations will be special forces only with the use of some type of unmanned aircraft or soldier.
What is a "unmanned soldier"? :?
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by AKFTW » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:14 am

You think we will go full-circle to MP5s for room clearing in 5 years? :?

We are always preparing for the last war. And things that make sense in some AOs don't make sense in others. Look at Iraq vs Afghanistan and the transition from ACU and M4s to Multicam and 7.62 battle rifles. Oh and I don't think we will see power armor as in mech suits any time soon. What is the advantage? It makes soldiers who are fast, agile and relatively small targets large enough to be a healthy RPG target. It would increase cost per soldier, decrease mobility, and at what benefit? They can't replace vehicles because a squad can't ride on somebody's back. And the fact that aircraft exist is why Mechs have never been practical. They are too expensive and would be too easy to take out. Ever watch Return of the Jedi? Replace the Ewoks with insurgents and the wooded jungle with the concrete jungle and you'll see why we are not using "power armor". If you mean Spartan style suits then cost is still prohibitive and we are a long ways away from making that practical.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Lucretius » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:27 am

IMHO, you can't replace boots on the ground, for some types of military operations.
No matter how elite, no special forces can invade any country by themselves.
Influence the outcome of a civil war, rescue hostages, twart some unwanted insurrection? Sure. But invasions require huge amounts of regular grunts.

Moreover, I feel the OP list misses the importance of space based weapon systems, i.e. "Rods From the Gods", i.e. "The Ultimate High Ground". Throw in a few of those, with some special forces to guide them, good intelligence, and a healthy dose of mobile armor - and you've got yourself a future military superpower! :)
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by books » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:31 am

AKFTW wrote:You think we will go full-circle to MP5s for room clearing in 5 years? :?

We are always preparing for the last war. And things that make sense in some AOs don't make sense in others. Look at Iraq vs Afghanistan and the transition from ACU and M4s to Multicam and 7.62 battle rifles. Oh and I don't think we will see power armor as in mech suits any time soon. What is the advantage? It makes soldiers who are fast, agile and relatively small targets large enough to be a healthy RPG target. It would increase cost per soldier, decrease mobility, and at what benefit? They can't replace vehicles because a squad can't ride on somebody's back. And the fact that aircraft exist is why Mechs have never been practical. They are too expensive and would be too easy to take out. Ever watch Return of the Jedi? Replace the Ewoks with insurgents and the wooded jungle with the concrete jungle and you'll see why we are not using "power armor". If you mean Spartan style suits then cost is still prohibitive and we are a long ways away from making that practical.

Robotics were my AE in college, so I've always kind of followed them. The biggest issues in man-sized mechs are power and structural (alloys for "bones" and actuator strength). I'm betting the power issue will be solved in 10 years, and alloys/actuators in the next 20. There's already a good bit of progress being made in R&D in both of those fields, there are already man-sized suits with external power sources. I'd bet the farm on a suit being field-tested by the time I'm 50, if it isn't even further along. I'd also bet the suit's not much bigger than your average [padded up] football linebacker (the current unarmored version is about this size, if you ignore the big-ass power supply). The benefits to infantry operations would be huge - Immunity to small arms fire, increased load carrying capacity, ability to wield crew-serviced weapons, field engineering, vehicle recovery, and less fatigue from movement. They wouldn't be an RPG target any more than a a squad or vehicle currently is, and assuming advancements in armor, a direct RPG may do little more than knock the armored soldier over.

I would imagine the limiting factor would be cost (the rare earth elements in the power source alone would probably be incredible) would be the limiting factor. I can't imagine suiting up every soldier, but I could see them mixed with normal infantry and in armor-support roles.
Lucretius wrote:IMHO, you can't replace boots on the ground, for some types of military operations.
No matter how elite, no special forces can invade any country by themselves.
Influence the outcome of a civil war, rescue hostages, twart some unwanted insurrection? Sure. But invasions require huge amounts of regular grunts.

Moreover, I feel the OP list misses the importance of space based weapon systems, i.e. "Rods From the Gods", i.e. "The Ultimate High Ground". Throw in a few of those, with some special forces to guide them, good intelligence, and a healthy dose of mobile armor - and you've got yourself a future military superpower! :)
There are treaties in place to prevent the militarization of space. I'm not promising every country will adhere to the treaty forever, but I wouldn't anticipate satellites being used as weapons platforms in the near future.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by USMCSergeant » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:52 am

Lucretius wrote:
USMCSergeant wrote:In 20 years infantry field on ground operations will be special forces only with the use of some type of unmanned aircraft or soldier.
What is a "unmanned soldier"? :?
Well.. a robot, or some type of unmanned fighting vehicle. I don't know whether these will be remote controlled "soldiers", my gut is telling me that they will be. Possibly not in 20 years, but definitely in 50. In 20 years the technology will be so advanced they may operate on their own following codes or programs. I do believe 20 years from now now, OUR country will use very few boots on the ground in combat operations. Special forces only, I also believe that 90% of the aircraft will be unmanned.

I'm a grunt myself and it sucks to say that stuff, but in my opinion it will eventually be this way. I know it sounds far fetched, and maybe it is.. But it's my opinion and I'm a jarhead so take it with a few grains of salt.. :mrgreen:
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Urban Core » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:57 am

I would bet personally on a lot more drones. Ground based combat drones. AI Tanks and APCs with Dogbrain AI's that can handle the basic stuff and pilot back at base who handles gunnery and orders. We've already seen how effective UAVs are proving to be and ground based are only a matter of time. The first ones will be existing modern war-tools such as tanks that will be retro-fitted with remote control.

Israel is already using remote controlled dozers to clear areas and mine fields. The concept is proven.

As for the next 30 or so odd years. Look at the movie "Surrogate" and get a unholy look at what is a realistic outcome. Once we bridge the power/weight issue and robotics become a reality then we'll see the Neural-Bridge completed and we'll be able to interface directly with the machines. That means a soldier and just become the tank. Or the drone. Or the robot. Or the surrogate.. as it is.

Weapons? I don't see Chemical-based charges going anywhere any time soon. We won't see practical infantry level energy weapons until we solve the power issue. And even that it will be cheaper to continue to use the old 5.62 then the new las-guns.

Thoughts?
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by USMCSergeant » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:02 am

I don't see a "Neural-Bridge" completed, that's too far out for my brain to comprehend. I do see remote controlled tanks and aircraft fighting in battles. As for soldiers, I hope it doesn't happen, but I think there will be FAR less boots on the ground.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by books » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:11 am

I don't know a lot about neural bridges. I've heard there's some really basic stuff being done with using nerve endings to control circuits, but my brain just can't comprehend that happening in my lifetime.

I also tend to thing any sort of battlefield-ready AI is at least 100 years away. We just aren't anywhere near having anything other than rule-based systems, and those aren't really very flexible when you don't have a controlled number of variables.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Champagne-Campaign » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:22 am

At this rate the world will be lucky to make it another half century.

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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Urban Core » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:50 am

Well they have already managed to come up with basic DNI (direct neural interfaces) such as having a monkey learn to control a robotic arm with some training. And that was a long time ago. Right now they are working on less and less invasive methods. They've managed to restore sight to people (limited) with computers and implants that use a CMOS/CCD sensor to interpret and deliver a usable image to the subjects brain. Using muscle contractions and nervous system electrical singles to control a robotic arm with humans. Gets better with training, in short, our brain learns how to control these things once it sees that it can.

So I think we're 20-30 years tops from a working DNI. I think full control will follow quickly. There is some amazing pioneering work out there going on in the field of brain-computer interfaces. And once we can control something at the speed of thought? Then we can send in drones that are JUST as effective, if not more so, then soldiers. And it saves lives.

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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Kommander » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:39 am

I can't comment on the rest but that SMG thing is really silly. Everyone, from LE to military has ditched SMGs in favor of carbines in varying lengths.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Red Tamarillo » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:15 am

Yeah for two reasons:

1. they found SMG rounds penetrated interior walls more than 5.56 (you don't want to hit the civilians in the next room/apartment).
2. 5.56 works better against body armoured villians- this classic shootout demonstrates why they need it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There's probably a bit of tacticool-ness in the decision too- you can hang more cool looking stuff off your M4 than your MP5.
Which is probably a good thing- I've always thought one way the US military regained it's confidence after Vietnam, was by making it's basic assault rifle look meaner- the basic M16 never looked mean. People have more confidence in a meaner looking weapon (as long as it works just as good as the non mean version). I've always wondered how the GI's felt about the WW2 M1 carbine as well- how it looks like a toy compared to the guys who got to carry Garands or tommy guns?
Of course a real pro is going to look at function over form, but in a large citizen army I think other factors would come into play.

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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Dave_M » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:25 am

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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Ad'lan » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:31 am

Urban Core wrote:Weapons? I don't see Chemical-based charges going anywhere any time soon. We won't see practical infantry level energy weapons until we solve the power issue. And even that it will be cheaper to continue to use the old 5.62 then the new las-guns.

Thoughts?
The Power issue for Energy Weapons is also a problem for the inverse square law, you need ever increasing amounts of power to have an effective range. I agree, chemical charges aren't going to go away untill a major improvement in battery or capacitor tech, but there are some interesting projects in high capacity capacitors. And From that, I could see Rail/Coil Guns becomming the standard rifle. Carry one or two fist sized batteies/capacitors, good for maybe a Thousand Shots if the tech pans out (30-40 years from now) Then you only need to carry the actual projectiles, bullets, rather than whole rounds, a great saving in space and weight.

But it won't be the next big thing. The Next Big thing may well be moving away from a standard rifle in one calibre, to a modular rifle. Need something short for CQB? Send your guys out on patrol with the carbine upper and small calibre fittings. Fighting foes further away? Get the Armourers to break out the fittings for a calibre that can reach out and touch your foes. Technology and Wealth will advance enough that the problems of supply lines are overcome to improve the frontline military, that's one of the major driving forces behind new tactics.

But the pessimist in me dosn't expect any real major changes.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:32 am

Yea, the smg seems to be slowly losing favor to sbrs. I think our thread on the .300 blackout is a good example of how a sbr can easily fill the roll of an smg.

Other than that, if you multiply all of your estimations by 3 or 4, I think that might be a more accurate timeline to when they are practicaly applied, rather than just niche.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Ad'lan » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:43 am

sworbeyegib wrote:Yea, the smg seems to be slowly losing favor to sbrs. I think our thread on the .300 blackout is a good example of how a sbr can easily fill the roll of an smg.

Other than that, if you multiply all of your estimations by 3 or 4, I think that might be a more accurate timeline to when they are practicaly applied, rather than just niche.
We already have people making Handgun sized Coil guns that could fire projectiles at handgun speeds, and fire at reasonable rate if plugged into the mains. 30-40 seconds between a shot when from battery's, and as I recall 8AA batteries were good for 30 shots.

Infact, I think I saw it first on ZS.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:38 am

Ad'lan wrote:
sworbeyegib wrote:Yea, the smg seems to be slowly losing favor to sbrs. I think our thread on the .300 blackout is a good example of how a sbr can easily fill the roll of an smg.

Other than that, if you multiply all of your estimations by 3 or 4, I think that might be a more accurate timeline to when they are practicaly applied, rather than just niche.
We already have people making Handgun sized Coil guns that could fire projectiles at handgun speeds, and fire at reasonable rate if plugged into the mains. 30-40 seconds between a shot when from battery's, and as I recall 8AA batteries were good for 30 shots.

Infact, I think I saw it first on ZS.
I think the estimates I made were more based on me thinking of a massive majority switch of arms, rather than having the actual technology exist. I mean, look how much guff there is just trying to deabte switch calibers. Then again, I'm probably wrong. Its 2:37am here... and I've been out at a bar.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by bamboo spear » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:12 am

I predict another 1970's after the wars end in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing new for a while, big budget cuts, and little interest in military arms technology. No ED-209's walking around anytime soon.

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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Red Tamarillo » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:19 am

The XM25 has already demonstrated your no.2 point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25_Indiv ... pon_System" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Though after much initial fanfare it was interesting that exactly FIVE weapons were being used.

Re the armored suits either Terminator or Battlemech style (if possible)- how would they really effect insurgent tactics? A bomb can still go off in a market place, a Terminator on patrol can still be taken out by an IED.
Maybe in an ambush against human attackers? But then quite a few ambushes I've read involve broken/hilly terrain and differences in height (which is why they're trying for more 7.62mm or above as the 5.56's can't reach that far. The only saving grace at the moment being markmanship isn't that great on their enemies side)- the 1 man tank isn't going to be nimble enough to walk all day through rocky ground and scramble up that sheer cliff. A flying drone attached to every squad would be more reasonable, but it would probably be more practicable for it to be small and nimble and just paint the target for some guys in the squad to fire off a longer range version of the XM25.

You can already buy small drones you can pilot with your I Phone:

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/01/iphon ... -suggests/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Red Tamarillo » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:10 pm

I had a thought overnight that the XM25 like all weapons can be countered, all that needs to be changed is some tactics/mindset.
I was thinking of the Maori Wars where the maori were prepared to spend a day or two digging a prepared fortified position with overhead cover and shell proof bunkers, then lure the British/New Zealanders into that prepared position, or in a US context- like the Vietnamese did with their tunnels and spider holes sometimes- but in both cases it takes some preparation, rather than an ambush on the fly.
In an Afghanistan/Iraq context, ambushing guys could carry a few boards along, dig positioned individual weapons pits, use the boards to heap earth on top for overhead cover, then when the US squad comes along and shoots off it's XM25's keep firing in safety. (Note this technique works if like the Maori or Vietnamese you have a safe escape route worked out).
In a city context, the XM25 is good for shooting through windows into rooms, well ambushers could easily build sandbagged smaller bunkers inside the rooms and shoot from within, as the XM25 is only going to be so accurate, there will be sizes of window/firing slit it can't get in, especially from odd angles. With rooms I guess you'd have the effects of explosives going off in confined spaces to deal with too.
The 25mm grenade the XM25 fires must only have a certain amount of penetrability of materials, as it's a smaller grenade than from a 40mm launcher or handheld- there's only so much explosive/shrapnel that can be packed in.

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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by D-Train » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:46 am

50 years = Terminator: Salvation.
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Re: The next big thing in military arms

Post by Kutter_0311 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:04 am

The US Army will spend the next 50 years figuring out remote-controlled robotic stand-ins for soldiers, who will get blown up instead of flesh troops.

The Air Force will stretch their service ceiling into low-earth-orbit.

The Navy will establish an advanced installation on Luna, as well as several orbital gun clusters capable of delivering a wide range of ordinance to any part of Terra's surface. A fledgling Space Navy will evolve to tie these instalations together.

The Marine Corps, already busy developing low-earth-orbit squad transports to facilitate rapid crisis response, develops orbital-drop troop deployment as part of the young Space Navy. Marines pioneer null-gee fitness maintenence, allowing them to return to Terra's surface safely after months afloat.
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