In this article lists five weapons technology that will shape the future of warfare from 2020 onwards. Let’s get started..
Weapons Technology: Space is a new domain, and there are many possibilities, including having weapons that can hit Earth from space. But in the immediate future, Space warfare is most likely to revolve around satellites. Satellites are one of the most important assets for a nation. They play a vital role in civilian and military communications. Military satellites are used for gathering intelligence as well as they can monitor and provide early-warning against missile launches by a rival nation.
Military satellites also provide guidance to missiles, aircraft, warship, to name a few. So, if an adversary can somehow knock off the satellites, then it can handicap the military. At present, the main Space warfare capability is the ability to disable or destroy an adversary’s satellites from the ground using ASAT or Anti-satellite weapons. The US carried out its first ASAT test in 1959.
The anti-satellite weapon had a range of 1100 mi or 1770 km. A mock test was carried out in which a dummy attack on the Explorer 6 which was at an altitude of 156 mi or 251 km was successfully executed.
The Soviet Union, after conducting a series of 7 tests from 1963-1971 declared its system operational in 1973. In January 2007, China successfully destroyed a defunct Chinese weather satellite. On 27 March 2019, India’s successfully knocked out a satellite. So, as of now, this kind of tech is available to these four countries. Another aspect of space warfare is using a satellite to destroy another satellite, but this kind of capability is still immature.
What is interesting to know is that the US Space Forces signed a law of 20 December 2019 which became part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Weapons Technology: Modern militaries around the world depend on computers and networks. Cyberwarfare involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks.
Many methods can be done, such as injecting computer viruses or triggering DDoS or distributed denial-of-service attacks. Cyberwarfare at least in limited form is already in use now. Known In August 2012, Saudi Arabian company Aramco, one of the world’s largest oil producers, was hit with a piece of malware called Shamoon that erased data from 35,000 company computers. This attack, allegedly triggered by Iran paralyzed the operation of the company.
Iranian hackers even hit almost all major US banks, making their websites unresponsive with sustained DDoS attacks. In 2015, Russian hackers carried out an unprecedented act of sabotage which gives us an idea of what can Cyberwarfare so. They attacked three Ukrainian regional energy utilities, and this resulted in a loss of electricity for about 225,000 civilians. In the future, it will be one of the most important domains of the military as this bring in asymmetric capabilities. For example, suppose a military base is near a dam, and the dam’s computers are taken over the water is released to flood the base.
The technology of swarming is in which drones are deployed in squadrons, able to think independently and operate as a pack using Artificial Intelligence (AI). This kind of capability will be disruptive as it will be hard to defend against. For example, even the most potent air defense will hard to track a single drone from a huge number of potential targets, and it will also run out of ammunition.
This Weapon Technology is in its infancy, but militaries around the world are putting in a lot of resources on this. A relatively simpler form of this has already been used. Known In January 2018 Russian troops had to face a herd of drones launched against the Khmeimim Air Base, in Syria. Russia was apparently able to neutralize most of this. Though the attack was not able to inflict major damage, it indicated that the threat of the drone swarm has arrived.
The last example is the attack on Saudi Arabia. On September 14, Saudi Arabian oil company, Aramco’s facilities, located in the east of the country were attacked by 18 drones and seven missiles used for coordinated attacks. The damage was very large & this resulted in a surge in global oil prices.
Lasers are concentrated beams of light that transmit large amounts of electromagnetic radiation against their targets. The power of a laser is generally stated in kilowatts. The general idea of laser-beam weaponry is to hit a target with a train of brief pulses of light. The rapid evaporation and expansion of the surface cause shockwaves that damage the target. When a laser beam strikes a target, it can cause the external surface to heat up rapidly.
This can cause a drone to burst in the sky as its battery pack or fuel tank to ignite. Even if this doesn’t happen, the laser could fry the electric sensors & communication modules of the drones which will make them lose contact with its operate and deplete its ability to navigate, ultimately disabling them. Lasers have some very important advantages. The speed of light enables them to hit their targets almost instantaneously. Laser weapons also don’t need to carry ammunition like traditional systems, and hence they will be able to take out a much larger number of threats constrained only by the power supply limit of the platform. They are also so much cheaper and could cost as less as $1 per shot. This is much more cost-effective than deploying traditional weapons technology. The U.S is in the lead and is deploying several lasers of different types.
Hypersonic Weapons Technology
An object is said to be hypersonic once they exceed speeds of Mach 5 that is five times the speed of sound. This is about 1,715 m/sec or 3,836 mph or 6,174 km/h. There are currently three methods being applied to make hypersonic weapons. The first is using Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV).
In this method, the system is launched to extremely high altitudes using Ballistic Missile or an aircraft where it skips across the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The vehicle then separates from the carrier and glides back to the Earth towards its intended target attaining hypersonic speed. The second is using a Scramjet engine. The scramjet is an innovation on the Ramjet. Ramjet engine can power flight to supersonic speeds, but scramjet can enable the missiles to reach hypersonic speeds. These engines have no moving parts, like the compressors and turbines used in the turbofan engines found on conventional jet planes.
They rely on the huge pressures created by fast airflow into the engine to ignite the fuel and generate thrust. In this method, a rocket booster is used to accelerate the missile to hypersonic speed, then the scramjet engine kicks in and enables the missile to fly at sustained hypersonic speed.
The third is through the use of Air-Launched Ballistic missile (ALBM). As the name suggests, this kind of missile is ballistic in nature but is launched from air, unlike traditional ballistic missiles which are launched from land or sea-based platforms. It must be noted that traditional ballistic missile-like American Minuteman III, Russian Satan or Indian Agni ballistic missile all travel at hypersonic speeds, but they follow a predictable ballistic trajectory and can’t manoeuvre mid-course.
Current air defense will fail to intercept these weapons because of their capability manoeuvre at such high speeds. Russia is at the forefront of hypersonic technology and has reportedly deployed this Avangard which is an HGV and Kinzhal, which is an ALBM.