Magazine article Foreign Policy

Words of War: Decrypting Nine News Military Programs That Will Change the Face of Battle

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Words of War: Decrypting Nine News Military Programs That Will Change the Face of Battle

Article excerpt

IN WAR, AS IN LIFE, TECHNOLOGY ID KING. As the U.S. military looks to maximize efficiency and minimize civilian casualties, researchers at the Defense Department are developing a range of cutting-edge projects. It's serious work--but that doesn't stop them from having a little fun with the naming conventions.

1. Gremlins

The U.S. military needs low-cost, operationally flexible killer drones. The answer? Gremlins-unmanned drones just a few yards in length that essentially act in swarms. In combat scenarios, existing aircraft such as C-130 transport planes would deploy an army of gremlins to fight on their behalf and then position themselves at a safe distance. Once the shooting stopped, the transport planes would retrieve the minidrones; each gremlin has an expected lifetime of 20 uses. The gremlins project was launched in 2015, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (better known as DARPA) is currently testing prototypes.

2. TALOS

In Greek mythology, Talos was a giant bronze automaton who protected the island of Crete. The U.S. military's version-the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit-takes its inspiration from that legend. Also known as the Iron Man suit, TALOS is body armor designed to protect special operations troops from both bullets and explosions. It also provides its wearer with enhanced strength, allowing him or her to carry greater weight and climb more flights of stairs than human legs can endure. First announced in 2013, the military now plans to roll out TALOS in 2019.

3. SLAM-ER

The Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response, first Introduced in 2000, is one of the most precise missiles used by the U.S. Navy. That's because It is equipped with what's called man-in-the-loop technology, which allows a weapons technician to review data in real time to help guide the missile toward its final target. SLAM-ER is also the first weapon to feature automatic target acquisition, which helps it improve the identification and location of quarries in cluttered environments.

4. CHAMP

The Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project may sound like science fiction, but it relies on an old-fashioned concept; microwave technology. CHAMP uses electromagnetic pulses to knock out an enemy's electricity grid and computer systems without any cost to human life. The project was slated to launch in 2016, but it has yet to be used on the battlefield. CHAMP could theoretically disable North Korea's missile command and control centers without using conventional explosives-though that action could still trigger a more conventional retaliation.

5. JEDI

This Star Wars-inspired acronym stands for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. It is designed to serve as a cloud computing and storage hub for sharing data among intelligence agencies, allies, and contractors; when fully operational, JEDI will allow the U. …

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