Lighter bullets, titanium machine guns and better armor for near future US soldiers

The US will likely have lighter bullets, titanium machine guns, tactical augmented reality, better ground and air drones and better armor as upgrades for large hundreds of thousands of soldiers over the next ten years. There will be some exoskeletons but the advanced TALOS strength boosting hard exoskeleton will likely only be deployed for a few hundred special forces.

1. Bigger but lighter bullets effective out to 1200 meters instead of 300 meters

The US Army is testing new guns and ammunition to replace the M4/M16 assault rifles. The 5.56 mm ammunition is not as lethal the in the over 300 meter range where many modern firefights are taking place.

Textron Systems, a private defense industry company, conducted a caliber study using a specially designed .264 (6.5 mm) caliber cartridge which they said resulted in “terminal effects greater than 7.62 mm NATO out to 1,200 meters” in both their carbine and machine gun.

Data provided by the company showed the machine gun is 7 pounds lighter than the 7.62 mm M240L with 800 rounds of their lightweight ammunition, lowering the combat load by 27 pounds.

2. Titanium 50 cal machine guns ar 60 pounds instead of 86 pounds

The US Army has created a lightweight Titanium version of its iconic .50-cal machine gun designed to better enable Soldiers to destroy enemies, protect convoys, mount weapons on vehicles, attack targets on the move and transport between missions. The new weapon is 20-to-30 percent lighter than the existing M2, will be made of durable, but lighter weight titanium, Army officials said. This made a 60 pound version of the current 86 pound weapon. These guns might also benefit from lighter weight bullets

The machine gun is currently used on Humvees, tactical trucks, M1 Abrams tanks, Strykers, some Navy ships and several aircraft such as CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawks. The gun can also be mounted on a tripod on the ground by infantry in a firefight or combat circumstance; the M2 has a solid range and can fire at point targets up to 1,500 meters and destroy area targets at distances up to 1,800 meters.

They fire 500 rounds per minute.

3. New non-newtonian fluid armor could have one third the weight of regular armor

Non-Newtonian fluids are made with substances like cornstarch. They are gooey and oozy to a gentle touch, but become as hard as steel when struck. In an academy lab, Cadet Hayley Weir mixed up batches of her secret formula, a viscous black goo. She says it’s less like science and more like baking a cake.

The substance is put in vacuum-seal bags normally used for leftovers and flattened into a quarter-inch layer.

That is layered into a wafer with Kevlar fabric.

A quarter-inch thick design repeatedly stopped a round fired from a 9mm handgun and multiple shots from a 44 magnum.

It could potentially lighten the average 26-pound body armor kit worn by servicemen in the field by as much as two thirds.

4. Tactical Augmented Reality

A new technology called “Tactical Augmented Reality,” or TAR, is now helping Soldiers precisely locate their positions, as well as the locations of friends and foes, said Richard Nabors.

It even enables them to see in the dark, all with a heads-up display device that looks like night-vision goggles, or NGV, he added. So in essence, TAR replaces NVG, GPS, plus it does much more.

The eyepiece is connected wirelessly to a tablet the Soldiers wear on their waist and it’s wirelessly connected to a thermal site mounted on their rifle or carbine.

If a Soldier is pointing his or her weapon, the image of the target, plus other details like the distance to target, can be seen through the eyepiece.

5. More and better ground and air based drones

Some larger air based drones would be cheaper and easier to operate than helicopters. There will be tablet and wearable electronic control of drone converted A-10s and other older combat planes.

Networked soldiers will call in artillery and other support.