Ford and Bosch are teaming up to present service technicians a new training tool, virtual reality. With a virtual reality headset, techs will be able to learn the

How will warfare change by 2050?

I am in no way an expert, and this is a pretty open ended question, but here’s just a few of the latest advancements in military tech (mostly by the US) ranked by how futuristic they are. (I don’t know how tactics might change, so I’m sticking with tech because it’s slightly easier)

Mundane

  • F-35 Fighter jet(s)
    • Has advancements in electronics and radar that’s unprecedented
    • Integrates with other systems to allow for a complete picture of the battlefield
    • Has “stealth” capabilities that give it a smaller radar cross-section, not on par with the F-22 Raptor, but more than the majority of planes ever made
    • Has cameras situated at key points on the plane, and a helmet that has a virtual reality to allow the pilot to see in any direction
    • The F-35 is technically 3 variants, the A version is for the Air force, the B version is designed for the Marines, and the C version is for the Navy, they all share the same airframe, but have some major differences
      • The B version is designed with VTOL and VSTOL capabilities, allowing it to take off vertically (though it is generally designed to just be short take-off) (see the video) (The other variants have a large gas tank instead of the lift fan that it uses in the video)
      • The C Version is hardened to handle aircraft carrier landings, which put a lot of stress on planes compared to conventional airstrip landings, its wingtips also fold up to save space
    • Despite program coming under constant fire for excessive spending and delayed development, at this year’s Red Flag training camp, the F-35 scored a 20:1 kill ratio, earning great praise from the generals and admirals involved. Pilots were actually asking the F-35’s to stay after they ran out of weaponry because of the situational awareness they provided.
  • Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carrier
    • Nuclear powered
    • Requires a smaller crew due to automation
  • Zumwalt class destroyer
    • “The class has a low radar cross-section; an integrated power system that can send electricity to the electric drive motors or weapons, the Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEI),[12] automated fire-fighting systems, automated piping rupture isolation, and may someday include a railgun[13] or free-electron lasers.”
    • The ship was designed to be stealthy and require a smaller crew, but due to budget problems there will likely be only 3 of them made

Experimental

  • Railguns
    • The Navy has tested them already and they are extremely destructive
    • Uses magnetic fields to launch a projectile so fast that it superheats the air behind it, turning it into plasma
    • This will allow for ships to be far safer to work on.
      • Current weapons technology revolves around projectiles having some form of explosive in it, and using the expansion of gas to send the projectile wherever you want to go. (This applies to missiles, bullets, and to a certain extent cars, ever wonder how dangerous your gas tank is?)
      • Unfortunately, the “explosive” part is dangerous for the crew who are firing the things, which is why you hear those stories about WW2 ships exploding because of a stray bomb detonating the ammunition stores, that’s still a problem today, not as much of one, but it is still a problem.
      • Railguns sidestep this problem because they use electrical energy to launch projectiles, and the projectiles don’t actually have to supply their own energy, so they’re a lot smaller. Projectiles launched from railguns are basically slabs of metal with targeting computers, which generally makes them smaller, possibly cheaper, and definitely less dangerous to the crew working with them.
    • “Velocitas Eradicto” is their motto. “Speed Destroys”
    • They’re trying to get it to have a range of roughly 230 miles, though there are a lot of engineering difficulties with achieving that, currently, tests have shown railguns being capable of firing 100 miles, which is still impressive
    • Other developers of this technology
      • The US Army
      • China (supposedly, hasn’t been confirmed)
    • Problems
      • As far as I know, there is some trouble when it comes to reloading these things quickly, though they may have beaten that since I last checked
      • Railguns use an astronomical amount of power, currently, the only ship able to spare enough power to actually use it is the USS Zumwalt
      • It’s just too powerful, it literally has trouble holding itself together due to the forces it exerts when firing
      • It requires a self-guiding projectile because of the distances involved, which makes the cost of one projectile skyrocket to around 25,000 dollars
  • Robotic Mules
    • Darpa is working on building robotic animals to carry supplies for US soldiers
    • “The robot will carry gear, such as heavy backpacks that can slow down ground forces. The four-legged “mule” easily negotiates rocks and divots in the road and field. It is intended to follow a military unit of soldiers autonomously, catching up with the unit on field forays with supplies, including food and ammunition. Refinements have made the robot surprisingly quiet, an important characteristic on a secret mission. Future versions of the pack mule will be able to interpret verbal and visual commands.”
  • Laser Weaponry
    • The US Navy successfully tested laser weaponry on several drones and small vessels in 2014 and the captain of the USS Ponce is authorized to use it in self defence
    • Due to it being powered by electricity, the cost per shot is close to 1 dollar, which is a great improvement on previous weapons
      • Edit: The price per shot is actually 59 cents, as compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the average missile
    • The Navy is actually thinking of integrating layers of defense, with cruise missiles for extreme distance, railguns for midrange, and lasers for close range combat
    • Note: The laser is not used directly on humans due to human rights and war crime issues, but it is authorized to fire on vessels and other vehicles
  • Hypersonic cruise missile
    • This one actually isn’t just the US this time
    • China has tested cruise missiles capable of going Mach 5+, which many have been speculating is to deter US aircraft carriers
  • Drone Swarms
    • The Pentagon has done tests releasing drones from from F-18’s that swarm designated targets
    • Also being developed by China
  • Exoskeletons
    • Currently under development by DARPA, they’re trying to make exoskeletons that will allow humans to go for longer without tiring

Note: This is in no way comprehensive and I may come back and change some things. Entries with more written under them just mean I know more about them than the others, feel free to comment with additional information.

Sources

General 9 Amazing Military Technologies of the Future

Drone swarm US military tests swarm of mini-drones launched from jets – BBC News

Hypersonic Missile WU-14 – Wikipedia

Laser Weaponry Laser Weapon System – Wikipedia

Railgun

The Future of the Navy’s Electromagnetic Railgun Could Be a Big Step Backwards

First look at Navy’s experimental railgun that can fire at 4,500 miles an hour

Railgun – Wikipedia

Five Futuristic Weapons That Could Change Warfare

Zumwalt-class destroyer – Wikipedia