Russia’s Next-Gen Military Armor

For decades, the US and Russian military have competed excessively in body armor technology, to give their soldier superhuman capabilities. For over a decade now, the Russian Sotnik or Centurion is leading the race by multiple paces. The third generation body armor can survive 7.62 mm rounds and is equipped with other high-end gear include night vision goggles and internal communication systems.

In a recent announcement that has met mixed reactions from warfare analysts, the Russian state-owned military manufacturer Rostec claimed that they have begun working on the 4th generation Sotnik which will be strong enough to withstand a direct shot of .50 caliber bullet, making it even more powerful than bulletproof vehicles.

A .50 caliber bullet is larger than your fist and approximately 3 times larger than the 7.62mm bullets, and anyone who is hit directly by the .50 caliber almost immediately dies. If in an extremely fortunate case the person survives, they are most likely to end up with irreparable physical damage.

However, whether the armor would allow soldiers to move along the front lines during battles is another story altogether.

How Real is the Claim?

Russian military warfare development experts believe that the 4th generation Sotnik made of lightweight polyethylene fiber and armor will be able to withstand the brunt of .50 caliber bullets with ease and will also be lighter in weight and easier for the soldier to wear and move around thus literally giving Russian soldiers superhuman capabilities during combat.

The armor is also said to be equipped with other robotic equipment and communication exchange systems integrated within making it a literal embodiment of the ironman. In a press release issued by Rostec, it was claimed that this new armor will surpass the outgoing Ratnik Suit that includes features of thermal vision, internal heaters, gas kit, med kit, and integrated communications. In the last 8 years, over 300,000 units of the Ratnik have been delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Arms Race Between Russia & USA:

Even though the US army has excessively worked for decades to developed armors that will enhance the capabilities of the soldiers on the front line, they haven’t been able to achieve even half of what the Russian manufacturers have built.

Russian military experts and analysts have said Rostec is very serious about keeping up its bold promises and believes they will be able to further lead the high-tech battle armored race for centuries to come.

Looking Back in History:

In the 1990s, US Helicopter crews were issued with the SARVIP (Survival Armor Recovery Vest Inserts and Packets) including huge pockets for ceramic plates to withstand the 0.50 caliber bullets. However, the weight of the armor was so much that they were hardly ever worn by the crew.

Earlier in WW1, the Germans also introduced Sappenpanzer, a heavy body armor made of segmented steel plates. Even though the armor was successful in terms of protecting the soldiers but it was so heavy that it could only be worn by machine gunners or sentries.

Whether the new Russian Sotnik will be able to break the barriers of the past and provide superhuman capabilities without restricting movement is yet to be seen.

Iranian Cyber-attack

A cyber-attack is a type of aggressive operation, which targets computer systems, infrastructures, computerized networks, or personal computer devices. The cyber attackers aim to access data, functions, or other important areas of the hacked system illegally. A cyber-attack can be carried out by an individual person, group of people, a country or some terrorist organizations as well.

Editorial credit: saeediex / Shutterstock.com

Before discussing the Iranian Cyber-attack, it is important to know the event that shaped the probabilities of Iranian cyber-attack to a serious extent. On 3rd January 2020, The United States killed Iran’s military general Qassim Suleimani. Shocked by the death of their beloved General, the Middle East declared payback for the murder.

Although the internet broke the news that world war-III was about to take place, but soon it started to speculate that the matter would not turn into a physical battle, rather would turn into a cyber-one which too is as serious as a physical attack. Jon Bateman, a fellow of cyber security for International peace said that a cyber-attack is expected in vengeance for Suleimani’s murder.

The next day, the United States’ department of homeland security in a bulletin warned Iran that the nation is capable of carrying out its own attack supported by a robust cyber program. When experts came to know about these warnings, they seemed to believe that the Iranian cyber-attack was impending.

Sergio Caltagirone, Vice President of Threat Intelligence said that when countries use cyber-attacks, a lot of the time the attacks are against civilian targets rather than military targets. He also said that, it looks like civilians and innocent people all around the world, including Iranians, Americans, and Saudis, will have to bear the effect of these attacks. Similarly, if Iran initiates a cyber-attack against the United States, the local residents of both the countries would suffer.

Iran and the United States have already been engaged in a cyber war for many years. The U.S has been blamed for using computers and computer viruses to disturb nuclear facilities and infrastructure in Iran. Iran was also held responsible for the 2018 cyber-attack that badly affected the government and residents of Atlanta. Chances are that this time Iran might hack the American Water system and power networks.

The one and only benefit of a cyber-attack over a physical battle is that it is generally anonymous. This means that a country can attack their enemies without letting them know who is responsible for all the damage.

To conclude, it can be said that the news of the assassination of Suleimani shocked many people, and will result in retaliations. The daughter of General Qassim Suleimani, Zeinab Suleimani, directly threatened the U.S. military by saying that “…the families of the American soldiers in western Asia… the west will spend their days waiting for the death of their children…”

Airships

Traveling by air is the fastest and safest mode of traveling. Today, it has become the most frequently used mode of travel, but long before commercial airplanes flew, the skies were dominated by Airships. Airships, as the name suggests, were tremendous in size and flew passengers locally. In terms of design, they consisted of a huge balloon-like structure which received its lift through gasbags. The gasbags generally contained helium but since it wasn’t cheap and an excessive amount of gas was required to keep the airship in the sky, Helium was later replaced with a much cheaper alternative; hydrogen which was notoriously known for being flammable.

There are three types of Airships, classed by structure – they are rigid airships, semi-rigid airships and non-rigid airships. The non-rigid airships have no structural framework and retain their shape solely by internal pressure. The rigid airships have a structural framework in addition to the gasbags. While the semi-rigid airship combines the structural properties of both rigid and non-rigid airships. Rigid airships were the most frequently used and had a better safety record. First flown by the German General Count Zeppelin, the rigid airships soon received a new name and were all referred to as the Zeppelin.

Developed in 1893, Zeppelin wasn’t commercially flown until the 19th century when a German airline took off carrying passengers in 1910. 4 years later and the airline had already completed more than one thousand flights carrying over ten thousand passengers. By then airships were being used commercially as a mode of travel on a larger scale. Apart from commercial uses, Zeppelins played a crucial role for Germany in World War 1. Used as bombers and deployers, Airships had proved to be useful for both military and commercial travel. This all changed when a German airship carrying 97 onboard abruptly caught fire on May 6th, 1937 in New Jersey, killing almost 37 people. This, along with a number of other incidents, took away people’s faith and marked the end of airships and the beginning of commercial airplanes on a broad scale which were much safer and faster and could fly internationally.

Now, almost 80 years later, airships are almost unheard of. However, a team of Austrian scientists are currently proposing an airship ten times greater than the Hindenburg for the sole purpose of carrying cargo. This new and unique airship will be capable of lifting more than 20,000 tons of cargo across land and sea. Furthermore, wind speeds at high altitudes can easily cross 150+ kilometers. Using this airspeed could allow the airship to travel around the world in just 14 days. As well as carrying cargo much faster than ships on the same route. Of course, the incident of Hindenburg is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about airships and safety. In this in mind, scientists propose to use carbon fiber as a durable framework as well as automating them so even if an incident is met, there is no loss of life.

Spy Robots

Imagine a drone which can stick to the walls, fly, and proper itself out from the water and can also securely land when required. A drone which can easily fit in the palm of your hand – sounds amazing right? People have this fear that robots are now becoming similar to humans, however, they’re actually becoming more bug-like each and every day. A group of researchers from Harvard University proved that the robot flight is basically copying small bugs that were there on the ceilings and walls.

There’s a wide range of applications for similar robots, ranging from tiny spying devices which can be used to conduct surveillance missions, to scientists using them to go where no sensors can reach. Till the time when robots will be in the air, hovering can take as much energy as flying can. Additionally, a new study published that considerable energy can be saved if we plan on using tiny robots which can simply land and rest between jaunts. It’s similar to how a bee might land somewhere after taking off again.

When we use the word robot, we’re not talking about some terrifying robots from the movies or directly from the future. Instead, we’re talking about creations like RoboBee. This drone was made by Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Due to the advancements in technology, this device can stabilise on the surface of water before an internal combustion engine will ignite to let it fly and bring it back in the air.

RoboBee was launched in Southern California in Los Angeles and weighs around 75 grams.

The major concern that was faced was the unknown weight of the actuators and how to make them flap. Scientists then came up with a new and improved design called ‘unimorph’ which depended on a single strip of piezoelectric material which would contract and expand while a current is passed through it.

This approach offered various advantages in terms of the dimensions, weight, control, aerodynamics and construction.

There is only one downside to the RoboBee – it’s basically not a drone because it depends on a tether as a source of energy. However, once the battery tech comes in line with the nano-scale robotics, the drone could work on its own perfectly.

Drone Warfare

You may have heard of drones being used at weddings and ceremonies to capture the most memorable moments. You may have even come across news of drones being used to deliver supplies to those in need.

Combat Device

However, there is another major application of drones. Also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), drones are frequently used in combat. Typically, these combat machines are used to carry missiles and execute strikes.

Drones are usually under human control in real time, although the level of autonomy can vary from one case to another. They are beneficial for combatants because no pilot is on board, which means there is no collateral or casualties if the drone is shot down.

In principle, the operator runs the drone from a remote location. The equipment that a pilot would utilise is not needed, which means that the drone is considerably lighter than a manned vehicle would be.

The United States, Israel and China are generally considered as industry leaders when it comes to drone technology and the art of implementing them in warfare.

History of Drones

Although it may seem that drones have come to the fore in recent years, their first use can be traced all the way back to the 19th century, when Austrians employed hot air balloons to bomb Italian cities without using pilots.

As soon as the Wright brother made a significant breakthrough and pioneered the first aircraft, work on pilotless planes began in earnest. While remote controlled planes were in development during the First World War in 1914 and 1918, unmanned vehicles were also being researched extensively.

It was at that time that the term drone was being thrown around. The United Kingdom created the Queen Bee, which was a plane that was regulated using a radio from the ground. This vehicle was designed for target practice, similar to most unmanned appliances at the time.

In the decades following the Second World War, countries realised the need for innovation and making headway in combat devices. It was in the second half of the 20th century that drone technology witnessed a revolution of sorts.

First, it was the Israeli aviation team of the 70’s that established an aircraft which operated similar to how a glider would. This unmanned vehicle was capable of flying for more than 24 hours at a stretch. This became the basis of drones and even to this day, these vehicles take inspiration from the design produced by Israel.

The next advancement came in the 90’s when transmitters were attached to drones. This meant that footage could be recorded and transmitted to operators on the ground. This was used to devastating effect by NATO commanders and expedited the signing of the Dayton peace accords.

Another imperative improvement was made at the turn of the century by the United States once again. They were able to fasten missiles to drones as the CIA began their pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, the most wanted man on the planet at the time.

Laser Cannon

The arms race may be escalating quite quickly and intensely, after the public acknowledgment that Russia has developed missiles and laser weapons that are ready for service, Russia posted a video in July 2018 which showcased a laser death weapon, and they have recently announced that it has officially entered service. Here is all you need to know about the Peresvet Combat Laser System, which is essentially a laser cannon, and how Russia plans on using it.

The Peresvet Combat Laser

Just recently, Russia announced that the Peresvet Combat Laser System has officially entered service and now has been permanently installed. The inspiration for the name Peresvet comes from the ancient Russian monk warrior named Alexander Peresvet. The video that Russia released back in July, which openly shows the unveiling of the laser, is said to be able to obliterate targets in a fraction of a second. Not much else is known about the laser cannon itself and thus, many people have speculated that it will not be used to kill people, but will actually be used for defence against enemy missiles and airplanes. It definitely looks like it is straight out of a movie though.

A Boastful Putin

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia has been boasting about this laser cannon/death ray by saying, “Russia’s capacities for defending itself have multiplied.” Putin also boasted about the fact that laser weaponry, “is not just a concept or a plan any more. It is not even in the early production stages. Since last year, our troops have been armed with laser weapons.” He also taunted those against Russia in the arms race that, “We are one step ahead of our rivals,”

Is This The Start Of A Whole New Arms Race?

The implications of this cannon are far more deadly than they might seem. The death machine of which we do not even know the full details of will probably be used for more than just defence. The US is now threatening to pull out of the INF treaty as they claim the development of this laser cannon violates the treaty. However, Russia is retaliating and saying they are following all the conditions specified in the treaty. Putin also showed his concern over the fact that the New START pact between the US and Russia will expire in 2021 and that the US is not keen on discussing the future of the pact.

Real or Fake?

Some have even speculated that this laser cannon is not all that it is hyped up to be. The speculations stem from the fact that the laser cannon was announced during a press conference that was also hosting the launch of many other overly-hyped weapons. People also claim that Russia has previously lied or not been completely honest about their new technologies and that there is no evidence whether the cannon actually works as it claims to (since the video never showed it firing).

All we can hope for is that Russia and America stay true to their agreement and talk it out before deciding to fire on each other.