Technology has always been the ambit of the military. Very few organizations create, adapt, and adopt technology quite the way various arms of the military do. It's essential because it is a matter of keeping their competitive advantage over enemy forces.
Twenty years ago, the idea there would be unmanned vehicles conducting reconnaissance and warfare would have been written off as science fiction. Today, drones are sent on missions deemed too dangerous for human soldiers.
The military is already working on the technology it will be taking into global hotspots 20 years from now and the technology they are currently using is making a difference all over the world.
Current and emerging military technologies
These are technologies that are in use or are being tested for use in military operations.
If you're a Star Trek fan, you must know about the Romulan Bird of Prey, a ship that uses extraterrestrial cloaking technologies to render the ship invisible to threats.
The military isn't in possession of anything so advanced. However, they already possess technologies that work in similar ways. For example, stealth aircraft are cooled on the surface so they don't emit heat signatures detectable by regular radar technologies. They are also covered in special paints that "bend" light around them. Because we need light to see, anything that interferes with this process makes an object extremely difficult to see.
It is hoped that this technology can be developed to create materials that would render soldiers truly camouflaged and invisible to enemy eyes.
If you're thinking of lasers, you'd be correct. The military is exploring the possibility of deploying directed energy weapons in battles.
These weapons would include the use of microwaves, lasers, and particle beam technology, and it is reported that a few prototypes of such weapons have been developed but they are still some time away from being used in actual battle.
There are considerable military advantages to be accrued if this technology is ever perfected and deployed in the field. Laws of physics that apply to regular bullets do not apply to directed energy weapons. Their trajectory will not be affected by wind and visibility considerations. They will be longer-ranged, silent, and invisible. They will also be easier to transport.
Defensive plasma fields
You've seen Saturday morning cartoon characters block incoming rays with self-generated force fields, but that's just a cartoon, right?
Heading further into science fiction territory, the military is working with civilian defense contractors to find ways plasma can be used to deflect enemy weaponry. It is envisioned that a wall of plasma can be placed alongside tanks and other heavy vehicles to protect them from mortar shells.
However, this one is still very much hypothetical as scientists are still figuring out the mechanics of making plasma work this way.
Advanced computer hardware and software
The military isn't just fighting enemies on the battlefield anymore. Warfare has become increasingly sophisticated and now includes cyber attacks on civilian and military computer systems.
The potential for devastation is frightening as computers control our traffic, our transport, our communications, utilities, and our financial systems among other things.
This is why the military is hard at work developing the software and hardware systems that can survive and repel such attacks as well as perform in all-terrain. Technology like rugged military display systems will work in all temperatures, all-weather, and stand up to shocks and bumps without cracking or breaking.
It is supported by software that will block the most advanced hacker attacks. Therefore, you can sleep soundly at night knowing someone is working on preventing cataclysmic multi-system failure.
Caseless ammunition and self-directed bullets
Ammunition casings have been with us for the last 200 years of warfare. The military is working on ways to make them a thing of the past. The reasoning behind this is that casings are typically heavy and generate too much heat to be comfortably borne into battle anymore.
What will replace the casing? Scientists are developing a caseless ammunition system that will reduce the bulk and therefore weight of traditional weaponry. They also hope to eliminate the heat generated by it and the need for casings to be ejected from the weapons.
If this weren't enough, work has begun on bullets that direct their own trajectory, after being fired. The bullet will compensate for prevailing conditions and will correct the shooter's aim, resulting in a more accurate fire.
These new and upcoming developments are certainly something to be excited about. Something is always unfolding in military technology and an avid follower will continue to be amazed at what they come up with next.