Foreign Policy has published an extremely cool overview of highly advanced military technologies currently under development — technologies that will soon be at the disposal of the U.S. military. It's written with tongue firmly in cheek, but there's still a hint of seriousness to the article as the FP reviewers reveal just how bleeding-edge U.S. military technologies are getting — and how the U.S. might really be able to give extraterrestrials a run for their money, should they dare to attack.
Much of the technology reviewed in the article was spawned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, and some of the world's leading weapons manufacturers. It's clear from the article that the Pentagon is not holding back when it comes to the early adoption of what appears to be some pretty radical stuff.
For example, take the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO), a self-guided bullet. From the FP article:
Aliens can move extremely quickly, making them hard to shoot. This poses a problem for human snipers, but not for long. DARPA is currently working on the world's first guided bullet, which would have the ability to actually change its path after being fired. A 2009 Time article described the project as "bullets that, once fired at a specific target, fly themselves into it by changing shape."
Another mind-blowing tool that will soon be ready for prime time is the High Energy Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS), which is a rather long-winded way of saying laser. Currently in development at DARPA, these lasers will be capable of harnessing the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats. Combat-ready lasers have already been developed, but they tend to be too big and heavy for use in an actual fight. It's for this reason that DARPA is working on a 150-kilowatt weapon that will be light enough to attach to a fighter jet.
And on the topic of air warfare, there's the Falcon HTV-2 hypersonic aircraft. Though currently in the testing stages, It's an unmanned, rocket-launched, maneuverable aircraft that glides through the atmosphere at an astounding Mach 20, which is approximately 13,000 miles per hour. DARPA had to go back to the drawing board when, after a recent test flight, it literally flew out of its skin.
The Pentagon is also thinking about the war in the water, leading to a rethink of their nuclear-powered submarines. According to Foreign Policy:
As Battleship reminds us, there's no guarantee where the attack by space invaders will begin. In case of a sea battle, the U.S. Navy is currently at work on replacements for the Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine, which will be set to replace the existing ones in 2029. Most of the Ohio submarines carry submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) — up to 24 per ship — and form the sea wing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The new subs, called the SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine, are optimistically projected to cost at least $4.9 billion per boat, although other estimates range as high as $9 billion. That's pricey, especially as skyrocketing defense costs have come under fire during a period of belt-tightening austerity. But hey, if the new subs fend off an extermination attack on the human race, we figure they'll pretty much pay for themselves.
Be sure to read the rest of the article as Foreign Policy goes over a number of other advancements, including magneto hydrodynamic explosive munitions, pixilated armor systems, space-based infrared systems, and more.
All images via Foreign Policy.