Imagining the army of tomorrow's platforms.

Author:Magnuson, Stew
Position:Technology Tomorrow

Imagine it's the year 2030.

The 75-year-old informal truce on the Korean Peninsula has ended and U.S. and Republic of Korea troops are pouring over the demilitarized zone and headed to Pyongyang in a deciding battle that may finally reunify the two nations.

Troops are carried to the frontlines in a twin-engine, tandem propeller helicopter called the Chinook. Overhead, close-air support and reconnaissance are provided by AH-64 Apaches, and an unmanned aerial vehicle outfitted with sensors and Hellfire missiles known as the Gray Eagle.

Coming from the south in columns are a series of fighting vehicles. One is called the Bradley. The other is the Stryker.

Firepower is provided by Paladin M109A6 mobile artillery and a tank troops affectionately call the Abrams.

Soldiers are equipped with the latest gear: the M4 rifle, M240 machine guns and the BGM-7I tube-launched, optically tracked, wire guided (TOW) missiles to take out North Korean tanks.

It's really not that hard to picture this battlefield of tomorrow. National Defense Magazine, for its 11th annual research-and -development issue, chose "Battlefield 2030" as its theme for two reasons: it's a nice round number, of course, but also because 14 years out is a good time to begin the technology development needed to field the battlefield platforms of tomorrow. But from where it stands in die year 2016, the U.S. Army's technology of tomorrow is likely to be the technology of today.

Case in point is die recent Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C., where Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in a keynote speech laid out his vision for the kind of battles the Army must prepare for over the next 25 years. His vision matched three of the four themes chosen for this issue: fighting in anti-access/area denied scenarios; fighting in urban areas and fighting in a world marked by climate change.

As far as A2/AD, he said the Army will have to soften up battle zones so the Navy and Air Force can have access to them. This flips around the way operations are normally carried out. In that respect, it will have to do its own air defenses and be able to secure harbors. The Army may even be called upon to sink ships, he said.

Battlefield command headquarters and troops will have to change locations every two to diree hours because peer or near peer competitors will be able to quickly ascertain their locations.

He said fighting in wide open spaces such as rolling plains or...

To continue reading