posted on Jun, 21 2010 @ 09:58 PM
Tanks, for the time being, are more or less an 'evolutionary dead-end.'
There will be systematic upgrades to improve overall function - additions of EM weapons as they become practical as well as point-defense systems,
The biggest thing going on in the Army right now is data-linking and networking.
One of the projects involves what is known as 'augmented reality' - think about how Ghost Recon games highlight enemies behind walls, indicate the
location of squad-mates, objective points, building schematics and city maps, etc. Now imagine all of that actually superimposed over your own vision
using a visor on your helmet with built in secure radio.
Ongoing studies with existing solutions have shown a lot of promise. Soldiers get lost less often, communicate more effectively, and generally
accomplish their objectives with far fewer casualties (on all sides).
One of the biggest things is that soldiers will, naturally, tend to spread out a little more using these types of technologies. It has been an
age-old battle against instinct in war to keep soldiers from bunching up. Spreading out is a huge tactical advantage, whether it is in scouting or
taking a fortified position.
Further advances will be in powered armor suits.
Tanks will always be around in some form - but, like the battleship, are only going to change in the details. There may eventually be "hover-tanks"
- but any technology used to hover would likely be just as effective at flight, so any solution there would more closely resemble a helicopter or VTOL
The only major change I would expect would be lighter attack platforms centered around anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles or rockets centered around
high-explosive fragmentary warheads (good for clearing infantry and structures).
We already have some acoustical and EM-centered nonlethal crowd-control designs mounted atop Humvees. Optimized versions of those might find their
way onto heavier armor.
But, really - the 'secret projects' involve radar capability, sonar capability, propulsion technology and defeating radar/infra-red detection....
tanks are raw, solid products of industry built around a really big gun. The whole reason it was designed was to, essentially, say "%#$@ YOU!" and
run down the enemy's throat.
It's not really much of a cloak&dagger solution to problems.
That said - having something like a NOD Stealth Tank would open up some tactical and strategic advantages.
However, the reality is that tanks need a lot of support (which is not stealthy - regardless), and while there may be research into methods of
'shielding' going on somewhere, they likely require their own power plant to function. This would make any practical "secret tank with an
energy-shield" tied to an extension cord - obvious problems exist there.
The research I would expect to have the most profound impact on military solutions would be self-contained power modules centered around fusion (or
some other means of generating massive amounts of power in a small area). That would drastically change the scope of ground combat (which is very
reliant on supply lines).
And while I believe someone has had some success with practical fusion technology in those "restricted access programs" (Black Projects) - it is
likely limited in scope and undergoing refinement for practical implementation in even the largest mobile platforms (naval solutions).
That's simply my input on the present and future of armor and infantry tactics.