America's Future Warrior will go beyond camouflage to become truly invisible. Nanotechnology in the fibers of the soldier's uniform will allow it to perfectly mirror the environment. Like a chameleon, this high-tech commando will take on the appearance of whatever he is standing against. Concept Photo by Edit International.
By Lance Laytner
US military scientists are working to make the next generation of American soldiers the most deadly killers ever to walk the Earth.
Gone will be massive armies of men throwing themselves against each other and dodging fire from tanks and aircraft. The new armies will be small teams carrying weapons making them as lethal as fighter planes. High-tech armor will allow them to absorb super-human punishment And new stealth technologies will actually make them invisible.
These high-tech assassins will hunt their targets to the ends of the Earth, even tracking the heat of enemy footsteps on the ground. Their weapons will reach miles away and their bullets will be able to turn corners or explode after piercing through walls. The new soldiers will fight like terrorists…the enemy will be dead before he realizes he is under attack.
Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been funneling hundreds of billions of dollars once spent on the US-Soviet Arms Race into the creation of an arsenal of new super weapons and advanced technologies.
But the biggest advances will not be in the building of new stealth aircraft or super submarines. The most revolutionary changes will be on the level of the individual soldier.
It is the task of the US Army’s Massachusetts based Natick Soldier Center to bring futuristic technologies together to make American soldiers invincible.
“Our job is to completely redesign the soldier from the skin out,” explains Jean-Louis “Dutch” D’gay, spokesmen for the Future Warrior project at Natick. The new breed of US soldier is to survive any attack, operate without any support, and kill any enemy – a real life Terminator.
Says D’gay who retired as an Army Rangers captain to become an engineer. “The new warriors will be above and beyond anything we ever had before. We are designing an F-16 on legs.”
They began with communication. Military history has shown communication is more important than weapons or even numbers in winning a war. Even today the biggest difference between elite units and ordinary troops is how they work together as a team.
The Future Warrior will take military coordination to a level never before seen in humans. Their units will operate as one entity, almost like an insect swarm.
Advances in computer networks are allowing American military scientists to create a kind of “internet of soldiers.” Today’s armies that rely upon shouting orders or radios will not stand a chance.
“Each soldier will have a tiny computer in his uniform that links him to the network,” explains D’gay. “The soldier will be able to speak with anyone on the ground or in any vehicle.” The sound received is literally a voice in the soldiers own head. A new technology called bone conduction uses a human’s hollow skull to create the sound on the inside. If the soldier whispers the dime sized sensor next to his skull will transmit the sound to his teammates who hear it as a voice in their heads.
The Future Warrior can also see what other teammates see by tapping into the video broadcast of their rifle sight. They will be able to look down on the battlefield from a UAV or spy satellite.
“Today’s soldier just sees what is inside eyeshot. The Future Warrior has the ability to see a picture of the battle that is thousands of meters deep and thousands of meters tall,” says D’gay. “The soldier gains a kind of combat sixth sense.”
During battle their helmet allows them to see with infrared night vision or even through walls using thermal vision to track the warm bodies of still living enemies.
Looking through the helmet, GPS will highlight allies in blue and enemies in red. The only decision will be what which weapon to use when firing.
Picatinney Arsenal in New Jersey develops all firearms for the US Army and is working closely with the Future Warrior Project. Several advanced weapon technologies are being considered to equip the next generation soldier with a weapon that will make him a kind of mobile artillery platform.
Over the last two centuries the individual ground trooper has been eclipsed by the power of big artillery guns. Soldiers have become easy targets of ever more deadly long-range weapons.
The Future Warrior will even the score and have enough firepower to fight big guns and tanks. A single soldier will be able to destroy jet fighters and combat helicopters. Opposing armies using twentieth century guns will be exterminated.
New super-light weapons will allow far more ammunition to be carried and greatly increase ‘stand-off.’ Explains Dutch D’gay, “Stand-off is when the soldier has the ability to engage an enemy with his weapons but is out of reach of the enemy’s weapon.”
News footage from the recent Iraq War showed while Baghdad was being bombed the Iraqis could do nothing but fire helplessly into the night sky. The Americans had stand-off because they could attack without being hit in return.
One of the weapon technologies being considered is Metal Storm, a new type of gun that launches a solid wall of bullets – up to a million per minute. “The rounds are in a tube and can be fired one after another or they can all be fired at the same time,” says Dutch D’gay.
Imagine a sniper that can fire a hundred rounds in one shot. The target literally disintegrates in an instant. He or she could destroy planes or even tanks as thousands of shots land simultaneously.
Another way to make the soldier more dangerous is to give him more ammunition. “Think of a bullet,” says Dutch. “There is a casing, normally brass, with gun powder inside, and it is tipped with lead. The casing is the heaviest part. We are going to reduce the weight by two thirds by changing the casing.”
“Cellulose casings are much lighter because they are essentially paper and dissolve when they eject from the weapon.” Dissolving rounds are better for the environment and also make it impossible to track the bullets to their source for anyone trying to investigate a covert military operation.
There will also be different bullets for different tasks. “Not only do you have the normal bullet, but special purpose rounds,” says the Army engineer. New “smart bullets” will be able to explode in the air raining down shrapnel or explode only after going through a wall.
Weapons developers are creating mini-missiles that lock on to one target and follow the enemy wherever he goes until he is killed. One original design includes a quiver of four mini-missiles attached to the wrist of the Future Warrior.
If these weapons fail to destroy the target, America’s new soldier can “tap into” into any nearby military vehicle to finish the job. “When the target is detected the soldier has the ability to attack using a helicopter or tank,” says D’gay. “And now we are talking ranges of thousands of meters.”
The toughest fighter survives, says D’gay. “If you make the soldier the most lethal force on the battlefield, fewer enemies will try to engage him.”
But if he is attacked, the Future Warrior will survive assaults that would kill any ordinary soldier and even destroy most tanks.
This inhuman ability to stay alive comes from the incredibly high-tech uniform the next generation of American soldier will wear. Its very fibers will possess a computer intelligence directed to keep the body inside alive.
This technology is so advanced that even US military scientists need help. The US Army awarded a 50 million dollar research grant to famed MIT to create the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology creates computers and machinery so tiny they can only be seen under a microscope. They are robots the size of germs. These “nano-bots” will be used to create “smart uniforms” and keep the soldier alive in astonishing ways.
Inside the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology sits a petri dish of what looks like mud. When an electrical charge passes through the dish it activates tiny robots that instantly turn the substance as hard as metal.
This technology will be used to create a new type of flexible armor. Explains Dutch, “It wears like a shirt until the textile senses the strike of a round, then it becomes instantly solid.”
The smart uniforms will also monitor the health of the soldier and transmit the information to medics. Says D’gay. “In today’s combat environment a medic is more than likely to go to the person who is screaming loudest, not knowing that ten feet away a soldier is silently bleeding to death.”
Even before the medic arrives, the smart uniform will work to keep the soldier alive. “Tourniquets are built in,” says D’gay. “The soldier hits a button and it powers up. Or if the soldier is unconscious it can be activated remotely. The tourniquet even pulses allowing blood to flow through the limb to prevent amputation.”
The smart uniform will even give soldiers super human strength.
“Nanotechnology embedded into textiles act like human muscles when powered,” explains Dutch. “It augments their strength in order to carry a heavier load. The soldier only has to use 15% to 20% of their normal body strength and the exoskeleton will compensate for the rest.”
Future Warriors will rip doors off of cars and punch through walls. Hand to hand combat will be like trying to wrestle a thousand pound gorilla. Soldiers will be able to run for hours because the uniform will do most of the work…it will be like running in low gravity on the moon.
But the most fantastic ability of the smart uniform will be invisibility. The Future Warrior will blend into his surroundings like a chameleon. Says D’gay, “The US Army has always lived by the motto, ‘we own the night.’ Now as opposed to just being a shadow, we make the soldier invisible.”
“One of the biggest revolutionary advances we are looking at is chameleonic camouflage. Nanotechnology gives us the ability to either change a camouflage pattern in a textile in a moments notice or even create a mirrored effect.”
The inspiration for this technology came from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Predator in which an alien killing machine hunts US commandos through the jungle. What makes the creature so lethal is that its alien technology allows it to become virtually invisible by exactly mirroring its surrounding. If it is next to a bush it looks exactly like the bush, if it is in water it looks like water.
But this is no fantasy to the American military. Experiments with the technology have apparently been so successful that the US Army immediately yanked development away from MIT and completely classified invisibility research.
In a world where Special Operations forces and stealth are increasingly important, invisibility may become the new atom bomb. Countries that have it will be powerful, while those without it may be forced to submit.
Many of these advanced technologies will not be used in combat for years. The US military plans to implement the changes in stages.
The beginnings of these technologies are being used right now to build a force of super commandos called the Striker Brigades which are currently training in California and may be tested against resistance in Afghanistan and Iraq. Next will be the transition of the entire US military to the ‘Objective Force’ which will have all but the most futuristic nanotechnology.
Finally, sometime after the year 2010 we will see the deployment of the full Future Warrior. Says Jean-Louis D’gay, “If we were in the car industry the Future Warrior would be our concept car.”
But with the end of the Cold War much of the world wonders why America is still spending so much on weapons development? The Soviet Union is gone and the new enemies of the United States are shadowy bands of poorly equipped terrorists.
The question begs to be asked, just who is America planning to use these high-tech weapons against?
– The End –
By Lance Laytner
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