New weapons: futuristic weapons in development

This category has been selected here just for looking ahead for some future development lines.

Those projects presented shortly here below are picked up from public sources and represent as such only single examples, not representative sample.

Right now or in the next five years there seems to be no strategically significant new break-through weapon or weapon system in sight, although most of the innovations are strictly classified and very little, if at all, information is available. However, some laser applications may turn out prominent but much basic research work is still required.

One of those “Putin’s wonder weapons” in March 1, 2018 speech was Peresvet laser weapon, which entered service trials in December 2018.

No details have disclosed so far but many experts assume that it may be some kind of ground-based air defense weapon, capable of downing both enemy jets and missiles, others suggest it could be used in electronic warfare, blinding sophisticated enemy systems, some said that military-grade lasers like that can be used against enemy satellites. President Putin has said that laser technology will play a crucial role in the nation’s military might throughout the whole of the 21st century.

The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) says, in its recent report 2019 that Chinese lasers could be ready to disable US satellites in low Earth orbit by next year (2020).

China and Russia are developing lasers and a host of other anti-satellite weapons and they might join forces to build space weaponry, according to a new DIA report. China is “likely” building anti-satellite laser weapons and may already have a “limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors,” says the report. DIA estimates that China will deploy a terrestrial laser that can shoot down satellites in low Earth orbit by 2020 and may be able to hit targets in geostationary orbit “by the mid-2020s.” Russia is also developing laser weapons to target adversary satellites. The DIA report said, “Russia began delivering a laser weapon system to the Aerospace Forces that likely is intended for an anti-satellite mission.”

The US Navy has recently heavily invested in new generation of laser weapons to be installed on American ships. The new high-energy laser system of Northrop Grumman is called Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM).

According to the info available, SSL-TM is expected to be shipped for its first sea trials in the fourth quarter of 2019. SSL-TM is expected to produce a laser beam of up to 150kW in power. The weapon, which Navy wants to install on some ships, will be tasked with destroying minor targets such as small enemy boats, unmanned aerial aircraft (UAV) at close to medium range, as well as some missiles. Another laser tech is Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) laser has installed on the front-deck of the destroyer USS Dewey, which has already started testing. ODIN is just one of several lasers developed for the US Navy.

An electromagnetic railgun can fire projectiles via electromagnetic force at incredibly destructive velocity.

It can reach farther ranges when compared with standard artillery and maintain high accuracy, military experts said. Both the US and China are experimenting with the new weapon, but China may be the first country to actually equip it on a warship. It seems that China’s naval electromagnetic weapon and equipment have surpassed other countries and become a world leader. Chinese military experts expect the Type 055, China’s domestically made 10,000-ton class guided missile destroyer, to use the electromagnetic railgun. The new weapon could also be deployed on China’s future aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.

The concept of Artificial Intelligence in Military Affairs (AIMA) is an important area of ​​development for all great powers’ armed forces, including their nuclear component.

Such technologies are used or planned for use in order to optimize logistics, improve the efficiency of material and technical services, enhance the capabilities of the Missile Attack Warning System, and increase the sustainability of nuclear weapons control circuits, up to and including direct combat operations.  When considering AIMA, it is important to distinguish between the use of AI as a tool to support decision-making and the implementation of these decisions at the command level and AI as a direct onboard system for guiding weapons.

All three great powers are developing and increasingly relying on robots to minimize casualties in current and future conflicts. In the Western hemisphere, the ethical and moral views restrain the development but there are no such restrictions in China or in Russia.

The Russian defense industry has achieved some technological breakthroughs that have made it the world leader in the development of unmanned, robotized ground-combat systems.

This may give Russian soldiers a major edge on the battlefield. Russian military robots are already performing important missions on the ground and many of them have been tested on Syrian battlefields. Uran-9, a remote-controlled tank and Uran-6, remote-controlled mine-clearing robotic system, are two examples from the wide range of unmanned, automated remote-controlled armoured ground vehicles.

The Russian military is building a giant cloud, the latest improvement in its ability to keep operating, if its connection to the global internet is lost, severed, or hacked. The cloud will rely on data centers, built with all-Russian hardware and software at an estimated cost of 390 million rubles and slated for completion by 2020, the report said. This issue can be seen as a part of Russia’s strong investment in AI-development, which still represents a smaller amount compared those sums invested by the US and China.

Russia has admitted developing “a completely new sea mine generation”. The idea is to create “complexes” of AI-controlled mines that are self-learning and can adapt their behavior.

It includes robotic mines and a special command control unit. After minor refinement, practically all classes of warships and submarines, as well as naval, tactical and strategic aviation, will be able to act as carriers of mines.

After the mines are thrown, the mines will automatically ‘line up in battle formation.’ In standby mode, they respond to certain characteristics of the magnetic and acoustic fields of ships and submarines.  The mine is equipped with special sensors and its hardware has a special self-learning algorithm. With it, mines will be able to determine the type of ship and distinguish their own ships from strangers. As a result, own ship will move through the minefield in safety but the enemy will be destroyed.

There is some information available that certain futuristic weapons, based on new physical principles, are in the development pipeline in certain countries like various beam weapons and other electromagnetic concepts, neutron guns, plasma screens and proton accelerators etc. Any break-through in these kinds of segments may give cutting-edge weapon to the initial developer but the development work takes years to become as usable applications.