Laser Weapon System on USS Ponce

We often see new military technology hit the news, making it seem like science-fiction has become real. The U.S. military is usually the force behind the hare-brained ideas, and we can expect to see more and more every year. With growing international tension taking place, the U.S. military department of Research and Development is spending more on new weapons, armour and other related gear.

Therefore, we have decided to take a look at five of the new military technologies that are currently in development:

Self-Steering Bullets

It seems the days of just pointing and shooting are gone; self-steering bullets are now a possibility. Packed with tiny sensors, a .50-caliber bullet can change course in mid-air, potentially giving an average shooter sniper accuracy, and making hitting moving objects much easier. While the costs of these bullets are unknown, they are being tested. Think how much better airsoft play would be if your pellets for air guns and rifles could be self-steering?

Laser Cannons

Laser guns and cannons definitely sound like something from science fiction! The U.S. Navy has tested its Laser Weapon System (pictured), aboard the USS Ponce – they do seem to choose odd names for stuff – and also expect to deploy even larger laser weapons aboard ships. Meanwhile, the army is working on a truck-mounted laser that will be able to zap threats such as mortar shells and drones. A benefit of laser guns is that they can repeatedly fire for minimal cost, all they need is the diesel to power the generator that provides the energy for the laser.

Plasma Protection Field

Like the laser gun, this sounds very science-fiction-y (think Star Wars in particular). Boeing filed a patent last year that would protect vehicles from blast damage by creating plasma fields. The idea is to create an ionised airfield that would be able to detect small oncoming blasts. However, the plasma field wouldn’t be able to stop rocket grenades or missiles.

Invisibility from Infrared

Though soldiers and vehicles can use camouflage to hide themselves from human sight, the use of infrared vision systems is used more and more to sense heat. To fix that problem, scientists from the University of California are hoping to use squid. They are developing ‘invisibility patches’ that are based on a protein the common squid uses to change their colour and the reflectivity of their skin. The protein, reflectin, functions in the same wavelengths as night vision systems. However, using this at military level is still a fair few years away.

Satellite Destroyer

One way to destroy an enemy satellite is to melt it. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded a program to develop a satellite that will hunt and track an enemy’s defence satellites. If it is done right, it will work by simple physics; reflecting a sunbeam on the enemy’s satellite that will, over the course of a few weeks, heat the satellite enough to make it fall out of orbit and burn up on its way back to Earth. So, it is now apparent that the U.S. military is looking to have battles in space…


Image credit: John F. Williams/ United States Navy