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How Technology is Changing Infantry

  • by: Sunette Van Aarde
  • On: 2, Nov 2018
3 min read

Technology is progressing and expanding faster than ever. How we use technology is changing all the time, with new systems being applied to infrastructure, our phones, healthcare, factories, the way we travel, the way we relax and the way we interact as people.

Technology is also changing the face of warfare. Throughout human history, new technology has nearly always been adapted to serve military functions. Breakthroughs in technology are often accompanied by breakthroughs in the efficiency and effectiveness of warfare, as seen in the development and deployment of drone strikes.

But all Defence programmes, even today, use infantry or soldiers on the ground to establish footholds, provide intelligence and remove the enemy. New technology is being applied to keep infantry safer, do their jobs faster and lower casualties. Now more than ever infantry are becoming dependant on technology for even the most basic elements of their deployment.

Technology can allow for great leaps forward, especially when it comes to protecting human lives.

How Is Technology Changing Infantry?


1. Training

Virtual reality can allow infantry units to be trained in a variety of simulated environments and situations that could never be accurately staged otherwise. Different missions can be trained for and optimised down to the smallest detail. Infantry technology helps to make the transition from training to live combat smoother, meaning more effectiveness on the field.

2. Armour

Revolutionary body amour made of smart materials can help protect from traditional ballistics and explosives, while also giving tactical advantages. Ballistic vests and helmets today cover just 19% of the body, and when struck with a bullet still do not guarantee survival. However, technology is rapidly advancing to protect infantry.

Engineers at Moratex, a research institute in Lodz, Poland, are developing a “non-Newtonian fluid” that becomes viscous enough when struck to stop a bullet. A non-Newtonian fluid is a substance whose viscosity is variable based on applied stress or force. These “shear-thickening” fluids are lighter and more than Kevlar, meaning infantry forces will also be more agile. It takes between 20-40 layers of Kevlar to disperse the energy of an incoming bullet. Liquid armour will disperse the same amount of energy without bending inwards and will revert to its original liquid state after the shot.

3. Optics

Infra-red has long been a staple of the military to have more accurate information about where an enemy is. Battlefield surveillance radars (BFSRs) have found widespread use throughout the world’s armies to provide smart tactical support.

The future of optics and intelligence is beginning to stray into the realm of science fiction. US technology firm Avegant is planning on using silicon chips with hinged mirrors that flip back and forth to reflect light onto a viewer’s retinas. Avegant sells a headset named Glyph that uses two chips with more than 1.8 million mirrors, each 5 microns across, which flip at least 3,600 times a second to generate an image that appears to float in mid-air without blocking out the surrounding world.

4. Autonomous Bullets

The US Defence Department has already begun work on a bullet called EXACTO, which uses self-correcting fins that can adjust its trajectory in mid-flight. Because of this, it’s possible snipers won’t need to be aiming at the enemy to take a shot, instead able to devise imaginative shots that circumnavigate obstacles or cover. To show the bullet’s optical system what it needs to hit, a laser aiming an invisible infrared beam will pinpoint the target, but this kit will be mounted on drones high above the combat.

It’s likely the military will increase the use of such Defence technology to avoid civilian casualties which are common with drone strikes. As more combat takes place in urban areas, the ability to shoot accurately from far away will become increasingly valuable.

Defence technology is changing how warfare is conducted on every level, so the infantries involved will need the very best to remain protected.

Read more about the future of aerial combat, or check out our defence and engineering jobs.

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