Here’s a first look at the immediate future of military gear — two of the coolest and most interesting U.S. military weapons technology that will possibly be used on the battlefield in the next few years. Plus, the beginning of military robots that join soldiers in the field of battle.
HK XM25 IAWS This is a 25mm individual airburst weapon (commonly known as a grenade launcher) made by Heckler & Koch. It is basically a different version of the prototype XM29-OICW (a weapons project that was canceled).
The XM25 uses a TA/FC system (Target Acquisition/Fire Control), which allows the firearm’s projectiles to detonate when they reach their target. The distance to a target is calculated by pointing the firearm towards the target. This distance is then quickly programmed into the projectile, and after being fired, the projectile round detonates at the precise predetermined distance. Because of this impressive targeting system, the weapon boasts a very high kill rate. The weapon boasts a range of 500-700 meters (or about 1600 feet to about 2300 feet).
The weapon also has the ability to “evade” physical defenses by the enemy. For example, if an enemy is hiding behind a boulder, the projectile fired will go around the boulder and provide a direct hit. Talk about a smart weapon!
As of 2009, the weapon was being field-tested in the Middle East. The current projected date for this future military weapon to officially go into production is 2012.
Boeing MATRIX Weapon System Laser weapons are an integral part of most any science fiction movie, TV show, book, or video game. But what about laser weapons that actually exist? Laser technology for use in weapons has been experimented with for several years, with the Air Force’s Chemical Oxygen-Iodine Laser being produced in the 1970s. But just recently, Boeing reported its successful tests of two different laser weapons.
Its anti-air laser weapon, called MATRIX (Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments), shot down five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The weapon targets and destroys an air vehicle using a high power laser beam. Another laser weapons system, called the Advanced Tactical Laser, has been successful in destroying ground targets from the air. It was the Air Force who gave Boeing the money to develop the MATRIX system.
With this news, it appears future military laser weapons from science fiction stories are not so far from becoming reality.
SUGV This small utility vehicle is just what the doctor ordered for combating terrorists on their own turf. The SUGV (Small Unmanned Utility Vehicle) is a robot vehicle made by iRobot based on the design of the PackBot (which is currently being used in the fight against terror in the Middle East). The SUGV, weighing less than 30 lbs., will be carried by one soldier and activated when needed.
It has a built-in camera, worn by the soldier pictured below, that allows its driver to view the unit’s line of sight by wearing a small eyepiece. An Xbox game system controller is used to drive the unit, which provides for easy operation by soldiers of younger generations. It has the ability to traverse over just about any kind of surface, including going up a staircase. It can carry a maximum payload of 6 pounds. The unit’s purpose is to go ahead of soldiers’ positions and identify, and possibly eliminate, any danger. The unit will come in handy most when soldiers must enter buildings and other structures in order to exterminate enemies – the SUGV can go ahead of them and locate the position of enemies. If danger is detected (ie, enemy personnel) it can fire gas grenades so the team of U.S. soldiers has an advantage before it even encounters the enemy. The camera will also be able to identify the presence of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), which have wreaked havoc during the war on terror.
With the advent of the SUGV, robots will finally be joining humans on the battlefield in future military missions. The SUGV may not be a Terminator, but they will no doubt provide exceptional benefits for soldiers in combat. The units will start to see action in 2011.
Written by Craig Kent, member of the Best Military Surplus team.