May 08, 2009

Super Soldier 2030

There is a 19 page pdf that describes an integrated vision for Super soldiers in 2030. Many of the pieces are being funded and developed separately. An integrated program has not been funded. However, the United states has over $50 billion per year in undisclosed/classified military projects.

This site has previously covered the $3 billion in DARPA projects to enhance soldier endurance, performance and to develop metabolically dominant soldiers or mechanical and electronic devices for enhancement.

The document is conceptual and is not U.S. Army doctrine, nor is it intended to answer every question raised about warfare in 2030. Their intent is to stir imaginations, and start a dialogue about how best to equip the Soldier.

There are seven major areas within Future Soldier:
1. Human Performance & Training
2. Soldier Protection
3. Lethality
4. Mobility and Logistics
5. Soldier Network
6. Soldier Sensors
7. Soldier Power & Energy

Expected Enhancement and Virtual Reality

Augmented and virtual environments will be ubiquitous and will support almost every facet of warfare including communications, data visualization, system control, and training. Soldiers will be able to move seamlessly among real, augmented, and virtual environments. Using virtual reality (VR) systems and serious gaming technologies will be the primary mode of delivery for personnel selection and training. Training will be embedded and available anytime, anywhere. The training would be augmented with the use of intelligent software agents and modeling and simulation tools resident on every Soldier system type, giving them analytic and decision-making capabilities that dwarf what is currently available to major command posts and rearward C4ISR centers.

Augmenting this capability would be mental and physical readiness assessments that would monitor a Soldiers status in real time using a suite of behavioral, neural, and physiological sensors that would be embedded within all aspects of the Soldiers ensemble. The data would then be captured and used to drive command decisions regarding unit tasking, Soldier assignments, and medical/psychological intervention.
A powered exoskeleton would be available and integrated into the Soldier system. The use of the VR capability would enable Soldiers to interact with robotics, software systems, and hardware platforms via an array of “third generation” interfaces that will rely on natural language commands, gestures, and virtual display/control systems.

Consumer demand and scientific exploration will yield an explosion in cognitive and physical enhancers, including nootropic (smart) drugs, neural prosthetics, and permanent physical prosthetics. These could yield dramatic enhancements in Soldier performance and provide a tremendous edge in combat, but will require the Army to grapple with very serious and difficult ethical issues. At the same time, if societal ethics change to embrace such enhancers, the Army will need to decide to use these types of systems.

• Integrated nanotechnology based exoskeleton – improved speed, strength, and agility
• Cognitive enhancers (nutritional, nootropic or other smart drugs)
• Physical enhancers (nutritional, pharmaceutical)
• Neural prosthetics (controversial now, but perhaps ubiquitous in 2030)
• Behavioral
• Neural
• Internal (fNIR sensing of blood oxygenation, glucose)
• Linked to individual predictive model of Soldier performance as a function of state variables

Soldier Armor and Future Bullets
Nanotechnology is expected to significantly improve the strength and durability of textile fibers through the production of nanocomposite fibers incorporating oriented, high aspect ratio, nanoscale domains. Based on current projections, a significant increase in penetrating power of projectiles is anticipated as tungsten carbide core bullets and tungsten fragmentation rounds become widely available. The anticipated future protection systems will be composite rather than pure textile with the addition of nanocomposite matrixes that react to ballistic, blast, fire, and other threats. The ballistic protection properties are projected to improve by a factor of 10 based on calculated properties for materials such as carbon nanotube-based composites.

These materials could enable the design of armor with bullet protection (against current threats) that meets the areal density goal of 3.5 lb/sq.ft. This value translates into an armor thickness of about 1.7 cm (0.67 in.) for a primarily organic material (such as a carbon nanotube reinforced polymer). A ceramic material with a true density of around 3 g/cc would result in a correspondingly thinner armor of 0.85 cm (0.33 in). A hybrid system designed with outer layers of ceramic and polymer matrix composite backing material would have a thickness of 1.7 cm value. The high strength and stiffness of these materials will allow the protective armor plates to double as mounting points. These materials would also be applicable to head protection

Super Soldier 2030 Weapon System

The Future Soldier weapon system will provide unequalled lethality and versatility on the future battlefield. The weapon system will permit direct and indirect target engagements, while effecting decisively violent and suppressive target effects at extended range and against defilade targets. The counter defilade target engagement high explosive munitions would be effective to 1,000M, while the caseless kinetic energy projectiles will be effective to 600M. Fire control electro-optics would be seamlessly integrated into the Soldier platform, minimizing complexity on the weapon. The weapon aim point will be illuminated on the headgear display and the fire control optoelectronic algorithms would substantially increase the number of observable targets in military operations in urban terrain (MOUT), jungle, desert, and rural environments by electronically tagging targets in the Headgear system’s display. Wireless connectivity to the digital battlefield extends the lethality dimension by creating a “virtual trigger” capability for each Soldier. All dismounted Soldiers will have a “forward observer” capability and will be able to call-for-fire from a suite of air, ground, and water lethality platforms.
The Weapon Subsystem operation is as follows. The target is acquired through normal line-of-sight or through a weapon or headgear mounted sensor. The weapon aim point is illuminated in the Headgear see-thru display and placed on or near the target. A voice actuated or electronic trigger is activated which launches the projectile out of the lightweight weapon platform. The munition will violently explode at the target affecting a 5+m2 lethal area. For the close-in battle, the rifle will also fire caseless kinetic energy munitions. These munitions provide the maximum lethality for a fraction of the weight and size of brass cased ammunition. The rifle itself provides a highly ergonomic, low recoil platform for aiming and firing the ammunition. Key enabling technologies for the lethality include:
Weapon/Munition Pod
• Low Recoil mechanisms
• Nano-composite materials
• Electronic ignition
• Caseless Kinetic Energy Rifle
Fire Control
• Micro-sensors/hyper spectral electro-optics/sensor fusion
• Polymer/adaptive and plastic zooming optics
• Optical Augmentation with dazzle/stun features
• Target state estimation and prediction with predicted target de-confliction
• Target geo-location and hand-off
• Laser radar for closed loop target and munition tracking and munition guidance
• Wireless link to Soldier
• Effect based weapon – target pairing algorithm
• Target classification
• Collaborative engagement
• Non-magnetic digital compass
• Caseless munitions
• Air bursting and scalable munitions from non-lethal to lethal in incremental levels of lethality
• Family of guided small caliber munitions

Lower Body Exoskeleton

Note: Field trials of an early version of the low body exoskeleton are starting now.

A Soldier may be outfitted with a form fitted lower body exoskeleton which will be the foundation for all other applications/modifications to the platform. The lower body unit (LBU) will be unique to that Soldier, providing components that are molded specifically to that Soldier. The Lower Body unit will stay with that Soldier as the Soldier transfers from unit to unit throughout their career.
The LBU will provide strength augmentation to the legs and act as a load carriage platform if need be. The LBU will have its own power source and can be used to power external radios, recharge electronics, power weapons/sensors. The LBU will be capable of being up-armored as well as encased for chemical / pulsed energy weapon protection. Advanced, lightweight polymers and electronics will be field repairable with simple tools that are embedded within the LBU exoskeleton limbs. Although lightweight, the LBU will feel virtually weightless to the Soldier. The LBU will be designed with an Intuitive Learning System that will over time, learn the unique gait and muscle actions of that Soldier. The benefit of such a system is that in times of injury or mobility restrictive wounds, the LBU can assist by “moving” for the Soldier using the gait and muscle actions that the LBU has learned.

Mission Enhancement Chassis for Exoskeleton

As the missions, environments, and threats change, then the enabling exoskeleton would be modified. The LBU will be designed to work independently or in concert with one of several mission enhancement chassis (MAC) options that will be available.

Each MAC will be self-powered to provide additional power and redundancy. A Soldier upon receiving his mission specific details will work with the Squad to allocate capabilities and distribute options. Each MAC will be designed to accomplish a base set of capabilities:
• Enhanced strength and muscle endurance
• Impact and blunt trauma protection
• Self Power options
• Recharge capability
• Unique load carriage options
• Ballistic and Up-armor protection
• Interlocking with LBU creating a full body exoskeleton
• Advanced Headgear Integration

Power System

The main power source would consist of a hybrid device located on the body and consists of a multi-fueled generator combined with a small rechargeable battery. The multi-fueled generator would convert any liquid fuel available in the field (methanol, butanol, jet fuel, diesel, and non-fossil fuel products) directly into electricity via electrochemical means, quietly and efficiently. The rechargeable battery would be a high efficiency nano-structured solid-state composite with lithium nickel cobalt manganese cathode and silicon carbon-black anode. The electronics would also be powered by lightweight, rechargeable, polymeric nano-fiber battery patches (energy densities of ~200 whr/kg) embedded in critical components. The small, flat battery patch would weigh less than 1 ounce. When fully charged, these small-distributed power sources would provide enough energy to power the soldier for up to 3 hours. The generator and the rechargeable battery would be extremely energy and power dense and last the Soldier for up to 4 days. The ensemble will also contain a nano fiber system to capture energy transmitted to the ensemble. The wireless energy transfer system would enable Soldier to recharge without plugging into a device. The energy would be transmitted from the vehicle or other secondary system.

Some Other Highlights

Novel transparent ceramics such as aluminum oxynitride (ALON) spinels or transparent composites with nanophase reinforcement are projected to provide up to 5 times the performance of current transparent materials.

A microelectronics/optics suite integrated into the Headgear system will provide unaided visual, thermal, light amplified, acoustic, NBC detection with laser radar (LADAR) and radar sensor fusion. Multi-band, multi-mode radio frequency (RF/nonRF) communications will permit remote operation of micromachines, unattended microsensors, and/or miniature land robotic devices; communication with organizational assets such as micro unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); remote detection of CB agents; and communication with non-organizational assets such as large UAVs and space-based satellites.

Wired has a summary of the supersoldier vision for 2030

Uniforms will be packed with nano-antenna arrays, capable of communicating with everything from drones to satellites. The soldiers will all be Hulk-strong, and Spiderman-agile, thanks to their nanotech-based exoskeletons. “Neural prosthetics” and “smart drugs” will make them battlefield geniuses. On-board computers will let them understand every language — and every cultural reference — as if they were natives. Naturally, their flexible, nanofiber uniforms will be all-but-impervious to bullets, flame, and lasers, too.

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