War of the future

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War of the future
War of the future

Over the past decades, a real revolution has taken place in military affairs. Modern warfare bears little resemblance to how it was imagined 30 years ago. But what will the war of the future be like? And can it be called a war in the usual sense of the word?

War of the future

Network-centric wars

There will be wars in the 21st century. And it's not even about the level of development of modern civilization. Simply, the so-called civilization covers only one sixth of the world's population. If this part of people has learned to resolve issues peacefully, at least among themselves, then the situation in Africa or Asia looks completely different. However, in developing countries and in the 21st century, military conflicts are unlikely to be very different from those to which we are accustomed. In any case, until the developed powers intervene in them. What technologies will be at the disposal of the powerful? Will they be able to become a decisive factor in the conduct of the war?


Network-centric war concept

The answer to this question can be seen in the example of local wars that have occurred over the past decades. US Navy Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski and Chiefs of Staff expert John Garstka can be considered the authors of the term "network-centric warfare", which was introduced in 1998. The essence of this concept is both simple and complex at the same time: to unite all armed formations within a single information field. Units of the US Army (Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Ground Forces, etc.) must receive and integrate information from various sources in real time. Among the promising developments of the American military-industrial complex, one cannot fail to mention the famous BigDog porter robot, which in fact resembles a huge dog. The experimental model, created by Boston Dynamics, has become a real star of the Internet. Weighing 110 kg BigDog is able to carry 154 kg of cargo at a speed of 6.4 km / h and overcome quite serious obstacles, moving over rough terrain. Unfortunately, work on BigDog has been curtailed by now, but its "relatives" and "descendants" will undoubtedly sooner or later enter the battlefield, dragging ammunition and taking away the wounded.

This approach will not only improve interaction, but also bring the armed forces to a fundamentally new level: "network centricity" allows you to simultaneously manage multiple units and, by coordinating their work, achieve assigned tasks with smaller forces and more efficiently. The 1991 war in Iraq can be considered the "first network-centric", but the really rapid development of these technologies began in the second half of the 1990s.


Today, the Theater Battle Management Core Systems (TBMCS) system allows American pilots to receive information from ground forces in real time. Often, before departure, the pilot does not even have an idea of ​​his goal: he receives all the necessary data in the air. During the second Iraqi campaign (since 2003), units of the US Army, down to the company level, used the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system. The commanders carried protected computers manufactured by Tallahassee Technologies, and the information received from various sources was displayed on the screens of their subordinates' mobile devices: paper maps and diagrams were no longer needed by the US Army soldiers.

In addition, the Army's Movement Tracking System (MTS), which united 4 thousand computers, was used to organize the supply of troops. The Transportation Command Regulating and Command and Control Evacuation System (TRAC2ES) logistic support system allowed commanders to receive data on the condition of their soldiers even when they were in the hospital.

Network centricity: opinions

These solutions are just the tip of the iceberg of information technologies that are now being used to solve military problems. It is difficult to exaggerate their significance, and in order to have an idea of ​​the war of the future, it is necessary to analyze in detail the American experience of Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, we turned to renowned military experts for comments.

Former chairman of the Public Council under the Russian Ministry of Defense, editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko: - The times of tank wedges have passed, and now network-centric technologies should significantly help in solving new military tasks. This is a qualitatively new solution that allows you to integrate existing weapons into a single information space. With the aim of such integration, new models of military equipment will be built on the principles of open architecture. Of course, the United States has advanced the farthest in this matter, but both China and Russia do not intend to lag behind in this matter.


Introduced by Lockheed Martin in 2012, the promising CUDA air-to-air missile is a prime example of the evolution of weapons. Close in its capabilities to the famous AIM-120 AMRAAM, CUDA is several times more compact than it. If the internal compartments of the F-35 fighter can accommodate 4 AMRAAM missiles, then the plane can take as many as 12 units of CUDA ammunition. If the concept is implemented, in the future such a missile could greatly affect the tactics of air combat.

If we talk about military conflicts of the future, then the technology of network-centric warfare will undoubtedly become even more advanced. Can they be considered the main difference between the wars of the future and the conflicts of the past? I think not. In addition to network-centric technologies for conducting combat operations, other areas of military affairs are rapidly developing today. Among them, in particular, a sharp increase in the accuracy of guided weapons, as well as the widespread use of space satellites for solving a wide range of tasks.

Editor-in-chief of the Geopolitics magazine, author of the monograph Network-centric and Network War. Introduction to the concept "Leonid Savin sees in" network-centrism "not only advantages, but also serious problems: - The issues of using network-centric technologies of warfare are associated with such imperatives as the speed and security of information transfer, as well as trust in people who carry out specific missions … If the issues of logistics and communication using network-centric methods can be improved, then it seems very difficult to change the consciousness of the fighters, the key links of the military machine.

This issue can still be resolved at the level of a small organization, but when it comes to the use of divisions, logistic support and other things, of course, old difficulties may arise. And in the issue of communication, nuances appear, tied to modern methods of electronic suppression and psychological warfare. In general, in the future, battles for hearts and minds will continue to be associated with strategic culture and the ability to influence the minds of civilians and the enemy's defense forces.

Speed ​​and accuracy

The war of the future is not only new information opportunities, but also the creation of new types of weapons. In accordance with the requirements of our time, the main emphasis in this direction is placed on the creation of high-precision weapons. In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, guided bombs and missiles accounted for only 10% of airborne weapons (ASA). The victory over Saddam Hussein's army was achieved mainly by dropping ordinary unguided bombs and missiles. But already in the 1999 NATO operation in Yugoslavia, the total number of ASPs used reached 40%. In the last military conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan), the Americans used up to 80% of high-precision AAS. Obviously, in the future, conventional free-fall bombs or unguided rockets will finally go down in history.


Skeptics will note that precision weapons are too expensive, difficult to manufacture, and will quickly exhaust themselves in the event of a large-scale conflict. However, price declines have become one of the most important weapons trends in recent decades. A good example of this is the JDAM aircraft munition. It is essentially a satellite navigation kit designed for conventional free-fall bombs. For relatively little money, based on old bombs left over from the Cold War times, JDAM allows you to get real high-precision ammunition. In addition to the Americans, network-centric wars are being mastered by other Western countries, and not only by their NATO allies. Sweden is developing its own network-centric warfare doctrine - Network Based Defense - and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters were among the first combat vehicles to put this principle into practice. In the British army, network-centric warfare is expressed in the doctrine of Network Enabled Capability.

However, the main direction in the creation of high-precision ammunition of the future can be called not cheapening, but miniaturization. This solves several problems at once, providing a reduction in cost, an increase in the range of use, avoiding unnecessary destruction and death of civilians. Thus, the promising GBU-53 aerial bomb - a further development of the SDB (Small Diameter Bomb) series of ammunition - will have a mass of 93 kg and a flight range of up to 100 km. The low weight of the ammunition will allow the F-15E fighter-bomber to take on board as many as 28 bombs of this type. Like the military of the past, the armies of the future require mobility - only at a qualitatively new level. To this end, up until 2009, the United States developed an ambitious Future Combat Systems (FCS) program.


The FCS concept required that an air strike on any point on the Earth could be delivered within an hour, and the transfer of a division required no more than five days, and the units had to be ready for battle immediately after landing. And although the FCS program was closed, the project helped to outline in many ways the face of tomorrow's military operations. In general, the weapon of the future will significantly reduce the deployment time and combat use of army units. Increased information awareness, together with an increase in the number of precision weapons, will lead to the fact that a typical clash (in the air, on land or at sea) will last only a few minutes, if not seconds. Changes in the qualitative and quantitative composition of guided weapons will make possible operations that were previously considered impracticable.

Robots under arms

Modern drones can be considered only the first swallows of the robotic vehicles of the future. Nevertheless, they have been actively used since the 1980s, and funding for this area is increasing every year. Over the past decades, drones have gone from expensive toys to mass production. Already, a third of the entire American military aircraft fleet is made up of UAVs. The principle of information exchange on the battlefield also has Soviet roots: back in the first half of the 1980s, General Nikolai Ogarkov outlined his vision of the war of the future, very similar to the ideas of Garstka and Sebrowski. The USSR even managed to take the first steps towards the implementation of this idea: for example, the Soviet MiG-31 interceptor fighters could already exchange data within their link.

The Americans have more than 5 thousand small reconnaissance RQ-11 Ravens alone, and the total number of drones exceeded 7 thousand back in 2012. By the 2040s, the United States wants to have a fleet of drones capable of solving any tasks that may be assigned to military aviation. However, for this, engineers will have to create some kind of artificial intelligence that provides drones with a high degree of autonomy. In the meantime, many problems arise from the fact that the operator, being at a great distance, cannot always react in time to a change in the situation.


Despite these difficulties, almost all experts agree that the future of military aviation is inextricably linked with drones. And even sixth generation fighters will be unmanned, either fully or optionally. The situation with the creation of ground combat robots is more complicated, but technology does not stand still here either. An example is the famous American combat platform Swords, a small tracked robot designed primarily for reconnaissance.


It can carry a wide range of weapons: M240 machine gun, M202A1 FLASH flamethrower, Barrett sniper rifle and other types of small arms. The Swords robot has already been tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the large-scale use of such systems is still hampered by the high cost: each Swords costs about 230 thousand dollars. However, if combat robots go into mass production, this will certainly reduce their price. One way or another, the "general robotization" of the army in the future will solve a number of problems at once - mainly, it will save the lives of highly qualified military specialists. At some stage, the use of robots will become more cost-effective than the use of people and even systems that are remotely controlled by humans: the robot, unlike us, does not get tired, does not complain, and its morale cannot be influenced either.

The military is far away

Talking about technologies of the distant future is a thankless job. Any forecast after a couple of decades is likely to seem absurd. Therefore, so far not a single scientist will dare to confidently assert whether, for example, combat lasers will become a serious weapon, or will forever remain "promising." In the meantime, laser and electromagnetic weapons, including the famous "Gauss cannons", are not only incapable of making a revolution in military affairs, but cannot even be compared with many outdated models. However, this does not interfere with speculating on the topic of weapons of the future and the specifics of their use.

So, in the future, there are high chances for the implementation of the idea of ​​insect scouts. Such a scout can be created by implanting a chip into an insect's organism or by building a nanorobot from scratch that imitates a beetle or bee. For more convincing, they can even be armed with miniature syringes with poison. The first experiments in this area have already been carried out, and quite successfully. Another step could be the complete replacement of soldiers with humanoid robots, endowed with artificial intelligence. Given the military's desire for robotization, this is quite possible.

Moreover, by the time a cyborg replaces the soldier on the battlefield, all ground, surface and airborne equipment will have long been unmanned. To reduce the price, many samples of military equipment will be unified and overgrown with additional capabilities. Already, functions that were previously performed by 10-15 different aircraft and helicopter models are available to several aircraft models. And in the future, there may be opportunities to combine air, ground, surface and even space technology within the framework of integral combat complexes.

The prototype of such a universal system was presented this year by the engineers of the Advanced Tactics company: their Black Knight transforming robot combines the capabilities of a jeep and a helicopter. Of course, in decades, such types of weapons may appear that will be based on completely new principles that are still unknown today or are not used in any way in military technology. How it will look, so far one can only guess and assume: a power shield? anti-gravity gun? One thing is certain: the professionalism and technical training of military specialists will play an increasingly important role.


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