In terms of sheer statistical figures, the US military spends an astronomical $554 billion annually to just fund its forces, while allocating an additional $85 billion for overseas operations. When calculated from a global perspective, this accounts for a whopping 39 percent of world’s total military expenditures. Of course, this vast ambit of money should also translate into advancement of weaponry – which especially rings true in a modern scenario where emerging superpowers from around the world are on a passive arms-race for future military technology. So, without further ado, let us take a gander at six of the most advanced weapon systems that are already being tested by the US military.
1) HEL MD photon cannon –
A collaborative effort from the United States Army and Boeing’s defense and security division entails a brand new Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) that is capable of emitting a highly focused beam of energy. In other words, it is a big laser cannon with a bad-ass name of High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD). So what exactly are the merits of an advanced photon cannon? Well, according to the engineers, the HEL MD has the capacity to emanate a 10-kilowatt energy laser from the mobile vehicle – which is enough to take out incoming missiles and mortar shells (see video below). Furthermore, the Boeing scientists are in talks to develop an even more potent version that could fire up 50 to 60-kilowatt laser shots that can easily dismantle (or at least disperse) high-range missiles and UAVs.
And quite interestingly, the HEL MD cannon can be operated with the help of the familiar Xbox controller. This is how it works – while one of the men drives the truck (along which the HEL MD is mounted), the other person sits snugly with his laptop and an Xbox controller. This simple connected system is used to lock on to targets, and presumably take it out.
2) Laser Weapon System or LaWS –
Christened simply as the Laser Weapon System (LaWS), this $40 million prototype system is claimed to have the robust capacity to punch holes through enemy UAVs, by virtue of its boisterous 30kW photon beam. This energetic beam is generated with the aid of a collective powertrain of six solid-state welding laser. Their apertures are combined and focused onto a single point – which results in a dazzling photon burst that can cripple enemy UAVs and even confound the navigational systems of oncoming ships.
The LaWS prototype is already installed abroad the amphibious transport ship of USS Ponce, which does its patrolling duties in the disputed region of the Persian Gulf. According to the military, the advanced weapon system is proving to be pretty cost effective, with one laser shot just costing around a dollar.
3) Experimental EM Rail Gun from BAE –
In technical terms, a rail gun is for intents-and-purposes an electromagnetic projectile launcher which is powered by electricity. The weapon in question generally has of a pair of parallel conductive rails and a sliding armature. Now, when current is passed through the system, the armature is accelerated by the resultant electromagnetic effect, which finally aids in discharging the projectile. So, in other words, the EM rail gun avoids the need for a explosion-oriented setup. Anyhow, for long, the conceptual and practical mechanisms of a rail gun have met with many limitations. But in the contemporary state of affairs, BAE has successfully designed their own version of working prototype that has an impressive muzzle velocity of Mach 7.5 (5,700 mph or 9,200 km/h), and a range of over 200 km (124 miles).
Consequently, being directly funded by Office of Naval Research (ONR), this future military technology can make its debut on boards of the future Zumwalt class of destroyers. BAE engineers are also planning to craft more effective yet smaller versions of the rail guns that can be installed on large tanks. Strictly speaking, this scaled down versions are envisaged to be used atop US Army’s next generation Future Fighting Vehicles (FFV).