We have come a long way, from machine guns and tanks in World War One, to airplanes and nukes in World War Two. Nobody likes the idea of a full blown war, but precautions are necessary to ensure we are on the winning side in case one does break out. Technology is advancing fast, and with it are advancing military weapons and operational tactics. In this age of information technology, unmanned drones that can unleash hell from the skies, lasers that can blast enemy aircraft and exoskeletons that give soldiers superhuman strength are fast developing into reality. Today we are going to talk about some unbelievable sci-fi weapons that already exist.
Governments of countries like the United States and Russia who have huge military budgets, spend billions on researching and developing new means to threaten the other and in this age, when every second country is a nuclear power, countries have begun researching on technologies that can cripple a nations military infrastructure with a pinpointed strike to the communication network before it gets the opportunity to launch a single nuke. These attacks include cyberspace attacks, military satellites with lasers on them and railguns. Read on for a list of top ten innovations that could forever change how we wage war in the future – the 10 sci-fi weapons that already exist:
10. Unmanned Underwater Vehicles
These may seem like a new concept, but the idea behind them has been there since quite some time. Submarines are a threat to any nation, nuclear subs can remain submerged and undetected in a nations water space for months, only to launch an array of nuclear missiles when war breaks out. The diesel submarines developed by Russia claim to be the quietest in the world, generating an underwater hum, detecting which is as difficult as detecting a single car engine noise in a traffic jam. To deal with these, several programs have been launched by the US Ministry of Defense and DARPA, including autonomous robot ships that can hunt down enemy submarines.
Dubbed the “Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel” (ACTUV), it is one of the sci-fi weapons that already exist and is designed to hunt the next generation of nearly silent enemy diesel submarines. It is based around a diesel electric submarine platform and is capable of autonomously avoiding random moving vessels in the sea, as well as tracking enemy vessels on its own. This system is both cheap and efficient compared to nuclear submarines and is autonomous as well. In addition DARPA is also working on the HYDRA program, a project that involves a large UUV mothership that can deploy smaller unmanned vessels and submarines that can hunt and track enemy vessels, as well as guard a nation’s coastline.
9. Powered Exoskeletons
Everyone who has watched the Iron Man movies has at some point dreamed of wearing one of those suits and flying at supersonic speed, shooting down terrorists and taking out entire squads of bad guys with one flick of the wrist. Well, supersonic flight capable suits are still a long way away from being in our hands but the United States is actively involved in researching and developing powered exoskeletons, a form of wearable body armour that gives its user a boost in strength and endurance. Lockheed Martin came up with the HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) in association with Ekso Bionics. This hydraulic powered exoskeleton is among the sci-fi weapons that already exist and it allows soldiers to carry as much as 200 pounds of weight and move with this weight at a speed of 10 miles an hour for an extended duration.
Another similar program is the Warrior Web (from Ekso Bionics in association with DARPA, which is a light weight, low power, under the clothes exoskeleton that allows wearers to walk, climb and run faster without any extra effort. One of the more hardcore programs is the TALOS from Special Operations Command (SOCOM) which is an iron man inspired suit whose primary objective is to protect commandos and special operations forces from insurgent gunfire during building raids. On top of that it is also supposed to provide extra strength and endurance to the bearer. The major issues plaguing the program are power supply, allowing the operator freedom of movement, and latency issues on the helmet visor. And once they solve all these issues, all that’s left is to design a pair of flying boots.
8. Rail Guns
Yet another one among the sci-fi weapons that already exist, is railgun which is a kind of gun that unlike a conventional gun, does not utilize explosive charge to propel a projectile, rather it relies on magnetic force (Lorentz force more specifically), generated by passing current through two rails to accelerate a metallic armature to fire a projectile at speeds as high as 5400miles/h over huge ranges, exceeding a hundred miles. The US Navy has already developed prototypes and plans to install them on warships within a few years. This gun is expected to be effective against a whole variety of threats such as aircraft, small boats, land targets for bombardment and even other warships.
While conventional warheads and cruise missiles used to accomplish the same tasks cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, each railgun projectile costs about $25000 only, making it highly economical. With tests scheduled to hold this very year, and the Navy already planning to install prototypes on its Zumwalt class destroyers, it is only a matter of time before these new weapons start establishing dominance across the oceans for the US Navy.
7. Military Lasers
We have seen plenty of laser guns in Star Wars and numerous alien invasion movies, apparently it is about to become reality now with the US and UK actively developing and testing prototypes of military lasers for purposes ranging from taking out incoming missiles to destroying unmanned drones. Not only do these ray guns look cool in the movies, they seem to be quite effective in real life too. In the year 2014, the US Navy tested their new Laser Weapons System or LaWS aboard the USS Ponce in the Gulf. It successfully took out a UAV and a simulated boat attacker in the test.
The LaWS converges the power of six separate solid state lasers to create a beam upto 30kW in power which can be used to fry motors, sensors and volatile explosives, including burning through metal. Also at $1 per shot, its dirt cheap (if you forget the millions that went into researching) and it is said to have a range of 10 miles. Expected to be on ships by 2017, more powerful versions of this system are sure to be on the way. On top of that the British Ministry of Defense inspired by their American counterparts has embarked on a project called the Laser Directed Energy Weapon Capability Demonstrator, aimed at designing a laser similar to the LaWS. Countries like Israel and China have also joined in on the laser arms race. At this rate, aliens may have to think twice before they invade Earth next time. Laser guns are among the 10 fantastic sci-fi weapons that already exist.
6. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV’s)
These are basically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) which are bigger, have more firepower, hence suited to combat rather than reconnaissance and surveillance as most UAV’s of today are used for. Think of the HK’s in Terminator movies. Pretty scary right? Because UCAV’s have no need for conventional equipment necessary for a human pilot, such as cockpit, armour, oxygen supply, control panels, etc they are significantly lighter and smaller than conventional military aircraft. While many countries produce UAV’s, the US, UK, Israel and China are the only countries actively involved in development and research of combat capable UAV’s. Among the sci-fi weapons that already exist, the Boeing XJ-45, is a UCAV under development that can drop smart bombs, is capable of stealth and can carry a 680kg payload.UK has its own UCAV’s in the form of the BAe systems Mantis and Taranis.
5. Insect Drones
The thought that an insect could be working for the CIA or Kremlin sounds pretty crazy but there might be a few out there we don’t even know exist. Insects are among the sci-fi weapons that already exist and can go where no human can, to look for survivors in a war damaged city or in an earthquake ravaged landscape. Also they can do the kind of spy jobs no human could hope of doing, like sneaking into a conference room and streaming the whole meeting undetected, or searching for the whereabouts of terrorists hiding deep in the forests. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who has quite a reputation for developing various military robots and exoskeletons for soldiers is also involved with designing insect drones and miniature UAV’s inspired by birds of prey such as the hawk, that are so small that they can fit through an open window.
The US military is also involved in such research, the Army Research Lab in Adelphi, Maryland are working on a robotic drone based on an insect with a wingspan of 3-4 cm. The motion in the wings is generated by a material called lead zirconium titanate (PZT), which flaps and bends when a small voltage is applied through it. Currently the world’s smallest drone comes from Harvard which weighs in at 60 milligram and has a size of 3 cm. The military is working on a drone that is 3 times smaller.
4. Invisibility Cloaks
The US army has long been working on a Harry Potter style invisibility cloak that could allow one to sneak in and out of active battlefields, buildings where insurgents are holding people hostage and even into top secret facilities and what not. Although for a very long time it seemed as though taxpayer’s money was going down the drain, eventually some people have come up with technologies to conceal both man as well as airborne vehicles.
University of California San Diego(UCSD) professor Boubacar Kante and his team created a “dielectric meta surface cloak”, a material that functions by manipulating electromagnetic waves such as visible light as well as radio waves, such as the ones used in radar systems. The invisibility cloak is among the top ten unbelievable sci-fi weapons that already exist. Its material is composed of teflon and ceramic making it cheap to produce compared to competitive cloaking technologies. Because of its ability to scatter electromagnetic waves, the material can be used to camouflage an object from radar or the human eye, only one at a time. It is expected to be used soon by the military due to its cheap and lightweight nature, to cloak anything from a predator drone to an A-10 fighter jet.
3. Force Fields
In our list of sci-fi weapons that already exist, this is yet another Star Wars concept bought to reality, at least partially by Boeing. These guys have been granted a patent for a force-field like defence system designed to protect targets such as vehicles or small structure from shock waves resulting from explosions, such as an IED, RPG’s, small missiles or rocket. It does not protect from direct impact, rather it saves the target from the resulting shock wave that comes after the explosion.
The system utilizes an electromagnetic shield of plasma (a super heated air pocket) generated via lasers, microwaves and high voltage electric arcs. This region of super heated and ionized air intercepts the shock wave and attenuates (decreases or disperses) its energy before the shock wave reaches a protected target. Considering that in cases of explosion, shock waves and debris are the main causes of damage, this is a great solution to protect vulnerable targets. However this is a temporary field and relies on a sensor that detects an explosion before it creates the protective field around the target. It will thus be a while before we see the impenetrable force fields from Star Wars or something similar to a Green Lantern shield, but we are taking steps in the right direction it seems.
The US Department of Defense funded super high tech and confidential research division DARPA is reported to be involved in the making of nano-sized robotic doctors through its ElectRx program, that can be injected into the human body and bloodstream via a simple injection needle in order to monitor, detect and even treat people suffering from certain ailments. DARPA’s project is one of the sci-fi weapons that already exist and is aimed at ailments not treatable by conventional methods such as chronic pain, inflammatory disease and post traumatic stress disorders.
These smart nano-bots literally “get on your nerves” and stimulate certain regions of your body to cure you of these ailments. One day these little intelligent bots might be able to help us cure ourselves from within with minimal external interference such as surgery. However lets just hope in the near future these robots don’t grow an intelligence of their own and take over a bunch of human minds, because then we would then end up with zombie like cyborgs threatening all of humanity.
While we are talking about cyborgs among the sci-fi weapons that already exist, we don’t mean the half-human, half-machine Frankenstein creatures we find in movies, with superhuman strength and guns popping out of every body part. Rather the cyborgs that seem to be a future reality are much more subtle, able to effortlessly link their minds with that of a computer chip, resulting in seamless transmission of data and unprecedented possibilities. The program being talked about is the NESD or Neural Engineering System Design program. Basically its goal is to develop an implantable bionic chip that allows for a seamless interface a human brain which is a cluster of millions of neurons, and a computer network.
The chip translates the electrochemical impulses of our neurons into signals that a computer can process, and does so on a huge scale, connecting the chip with millions of neurons. This could help war fighters by augmenting their senses of sight, smell and hearing, and could let a common man see information from around the world when we wish, Google search anyone or anything in our sights and view and interpret whole databases at a moment’s notice. It may even allow us to interface with some other person’s brain. The possibilities are endless and this could be the next step in the evolution of mankind, or could result in some gigantic catastrophe if we were able to manipulate minds with a few key presses, only time will unfold the capabilities of this technology and its benefits.
10 Unbelievable Sci-Fi Weapons That Already Exist
- Force Fields
- Invisibility Cloaks
- Insect Drones
- Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV’s)
- Military Lasers
- Rail Guns
- Powered Exoskeletons
- Unmanned Underwater Vehicles
Written by – Saurav Rath