Virtually all technologies and scientific developments throughout history have eventually been utilized in weaponry. The 21st century is no exception to this rule. While some advancements like genetic engineering have been heavily cloaked in secrecy with regards to military uses, others have gotten more exposure. Here’s a look at ten of the better-known developments in weapons that should give you pause for concern.
The primary obstacle here is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Accepted by nearly all nations including the US, China, and Russia, this treaty forbids any nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on the Moon, and on other celestial bodies. This still leaves a possible opening for laser and particle beam weapons that are used on narrow targets such as orbiting satellites. In practical terms, particle beams require power supplies that can’t currently be placed in orbit. Lasers that produce light from chemical reactions are being considered. Killer satellites that collide with targeted satellites are also a possibility. Another possibility being considered is “The Rods of God”. These are heavy tungsten rods dropped from 1000 km onto targets to deliver a destructive power approaching what a nuclear bomb would do, but without any nuclear fallout.
The term e-bomb is short for electromagnetic pulse bomb. Considering the reliance of modern civilization on all sorts of electronic devices, these bombs can be particularly destructive. It’s been known since their invention that nuclear weapons can generate electromagnetic pulses but conventional explosives can also be configured to produce weaker pulses. In an e-bomb, explosives are used to generate an electrical current through a coil. This, in turn, creates an electromagnetic field around the bomb. When this field passes through surrounding electrical devices, it creates a secondary electrical current in them that can damage stored information or even melt circuitry.
Russian Tsunami Drone
This is actually a bomb delivered by a drone. Known as Status-6, this Russian super weapon starts with a sea-going drone submarine about 24 meters long that can travel up to 6,200 meters and dive to 1,000 meters down. This takes it below the range of a US submarine. It can also cruise at 56 knots which is just beyond the velocity of a US torpedo. Once the drone has reached a deep-water target off the coast of the US, a nuclear warhead of up to 100 megatons in strength is detonated. The force of the explosion at that depth could generate a tsunami capable of destroying a US navel base and the surrounding shoreline. Making things worse, there’s also the option of equipping the bomb with cobalt-60 for maximum fallout contamination.
The TG is touted as being primarily non-lethal even though it has the potential to do serious damage to anyone getting too close, less than 10 meters, while it’s operating. Originally created by PDT Agro to scare birds away, the Thunder Generator is now being sold by ArmyTec as a deterrent device effective up to 100 meters. The Thunder Generator ignites LPG or liquid petroleum gas blended with air in a chamber to produce between 60 and 100 bursts of high-intensity sound each minute traveling at 200 meters per second. Able to create 5,000 bursts from a single bottle, the Thunder Generator succeeds where predecessors haven’t by allowing the operator to activate it from a safe distance.
With plenty of exposure in online videos, these types of flying drones differ from the ones you’re probably familiar with by their ability to execute complex aerial maneuvers in large numbers independent of humans. The most famous example used 103 rugged Perdix micro-drones that were launched from F/A-18 Super Hornets. The two things you should come away with from this exhibition are that these drones possess artificial intelligence that’s distributed throughout the swarm so there’s no vulnerable central control and that the technology used was off-the-shelf. There’s the potential for players outside the government to access this technology.
The idea of propelling a projectile through the use of electromagnetic fields goes back to the 19th century but has only lately shown a lot of promise in overcoming technological hurdles. First, it takes a lot of juice to get things to an effective speed of up to 4,600 mph. The US Navy plans to manufacture three Zumwalt-class warships utilizing 78-megawatt generators to deliver the needed power. Second, when this much energy is passed through metal parts, it transforms some of the material into ionized gas called plasma. The strategy here is to use relatively cheap existing gun barrels that can be replaced after losing too much material.
Imagine missiles so fast they can reach a target before it can be relocated while also evading countermeasures like surface-to-air missiles. To qualify as hypersonic, a missile has to reach a speed of at least Mach 5. The US military has experimented with hypersonic engines for decades but both China and Russia have very recently claimed to have successfully produced hypersonic missiles that will be added to their arsenals in the next few years.
The specific type of hypersonic craft being developed by the US is the X-51A Waverider. This vehicle serves as an experimental model for future craft and uses a scramjet fueled by standard JP-7 jet fuel. Without a turbine, a scramjet requires a rocket to bring it up to supersonic speed where extreme air compression kicks in. The X-51A Waverider reached Mach 4.5 on rocket power before its scramjet took it to Mach 5.1 for 3 minutes.
If this technology pans out, it’ll offer invisibility in both the visible and infra-red range. The drawback here, though, is that Quantum Stealth is currently just being offered by a single company, HyperStealth Biotechnology, which has yet to show the device or any verifiable test results to the public. They have claimed, though, to have demonstrated it to representatives of the US and Canadian military. Quantum Stealth material reportedly works by bending light around an object so that an observer will only see what’s behind it and is about 95% effective. It also operates without the need for electricity.
The list isn’t complete without some mention of zombies. Vladimir Putin’s latest weapon “for achieving political and strategic goals” is based on radiating the enemy with high doses of microwave radiation. Extreme doses of this type of radiation could cook brains or stop hearts from beating. Other psychotronic weapons could attack the brain in a more subtle way, causing people to become open to suggestion or literally disable higher brain function and turn them into walking zombies.