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Friday, April 11, 2014

The Navy Turns Science Fiction into Modern Technology


What does the Navy of the future look like? New technology has changed the fundamental development pattern of one of the world’s strongest military organizations. The navy ship of the future will be difficult to detect by radar, equipped with lasers, powered by ocean water, and able to launch projectiles with electromagnetic waves. It is no longer science fiction but is currently being run and adapted to modern warfare.  The wave of the future is one of constant development and transformation.

This week the Navy will christen its most advanced destroyer called the USS Zumwalt (1). The canopy of the ship is built on angles which make it difficult to spot on radar. Its impact and detection would look more like a fishing boat to the electronic eye. It will also carry the Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) which fires computer-guided and self-propelling shells that can reach three times the distance of an ordinary destroyer. 

In addition, over the next few years lasers (LaWs) will be installed on some ships. They will afford the ability to shoot aircraft and small water vessels at a price of a dollar. Unlike other small craft defense mechanisms, it can be used to pinpoint the engine, specific location, or even person (2). This creates the ability to handle smaller objects with precision and cost effectiveness.

Let’s not forget that in 2016 an electromagnetic gun will be tested on fast paced seafaring ships. The gun cuts expenses of projectiles to $25,000 from $1 million (3). The ships will store more projectiles, shoot faster, and do it cheaper than conventional methods. With a simple electromagnetic pulse a projectile is launched seven times the speed of sound and carry the strength of missiles.
Of course we cannot forget the development of perpetual fuel made from sea water. A new catalytic converter can transform carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel (4). Navy researchers will be working over the next few years to produce the fuel in quantity on land and then make it commercially available to its ships. This cuts cost of fuel to $3-$6 per gallon. 

The military of the near future will be cheaper, pinpoint resources better, conserve costs and do more with less. It will be powerful and unmatched in the waters. Ships will sail to the furthest ends of the earth without needing to refuel and micro-manufacturing will ensure they can do more with less space. It will be a military that uses science to enhance its mechanical and human abilities. Robotics and miniaturization will become the name of the game. None of this is possible without the fundamentals of STEM oriented education, the scientific mind, and the human capital to make it all possible. Cheers to the American Military!

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