Since the first battles between warring factions of humans, the race has been on to develop increasingly destructive and effective weaponry. The 20th century saw more fighting than in the rest of history combined, and this trend looks likely to continue. To keep up with the changing face of war, it’s important to keep on building bigger and badder machines. It’s time to delve into the world of advanced military hardware. We bring you the 10 most powerful secret superweapons in the world….
10. XM25 Weapon System
The XM25 Individual Airburst weapon system is a portable grenade launcher that fires 25 mm grenades. It offers a wide range of functionality, such as being able to set them to detonate in mid-air after traveling a certain distance.
There are a number of munitions compatible with the weapon, like grenades, High Explosive Air Burst devices, door breaching devices, or armor-piercing munitions. There’s even the option to use non-lethal alternatives. Soldiers in the field report that this weapon is such a game-changer. It has earned the nickname ‘The Punisher’ for being extremely effective at neutralizing enemy combatants from covered positions.
The system has an inbuilt ballistic computer, laser rangefinder, compass, and fuse setter to enable the operator to accurately acquire targets and fire on them, with precision, up to 500 meters away.
The US military has also developed smart guided bullets, which can alter their path to hit moving targets due to their inbuilt optical sensors. The intents with these technologies are achieving a much higher success rate per bullet and reducing the chance of hitting the wrong target.
9. Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System
The Status-6 first came to light in 2015 after images of the designs were accidentally broadcast on Russian TV news… or, at least, they said that it was an accident. In the segment, a general was shown looking though some documents, one of which was the so-called ‘devastating torpedo system’ that was in development- something that would be an understatement.
Rubin, a submarine design agency in St. Petersburg, created this torpedo. According to their claims, the weapon has a range of up to 6,200 miles. The torpedo is purportedly nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed. The plan is for it to be launched from a nuclear-powered submarine.
Featuring a remote operation, it can travel at up to 115 miles per hour. It can avoid detection by acoustic tracking devices and traps. Upon detonation, the idea is that it will create a tsunami wave up to 500 meters or 1,600 ft tall. Such a disaster can wipe out everything 1,500 km or 930 miles deep inside the US.
It would also contaminate a wide area on an enemy’s coast with radioactive isotopes. Such levels of radioactive contamination would render the area unusable for centuries- making it a powerful weapon against sites of strategic military importance.
8. The USS Zumwalt
The 3 billion dollar USS Zumwalt is a stealth destroyer. It requires a smaller crew than other, similar-sized vessels, and is actually cheaper to run.
Don’t let this fool you, though, this is an incredibly powerful ship. Its engines produce 78 megawatts of energy, which is equivalent to the energy consumption of 10,000 homes. This energy powers up its destructive arsenal, which includes an electromagnetic rail-gun that can fire projectiles at 4,500 miles an hour, and it’s regular guns remain inside an infinite magazine, which has the ability to continually reload as new ammunition without needing to halt fire.
The goal for designing the ship was to use in coastal waters, from where it can attack inland targets up to 72 miles away. The sharp angles of the hull confuse radar systems so they think it’s a much smaller ship, but this comes as a trade-off for maneuverability.
As well as being a unique design, the USS Zumwalt seems destined to be one of a kind. The first problem is the huge initial cost. The DDG-51, which is a very competent alternative, costs a billion dollars less.
Because of this, the initial order of 32 vessels went down to 7, then 3, and then 2. There’s no denying that it’s on the cutting edge of Naval innovation. However, it just may prove economically impractical to be anything more than a showpiece.
7. S-400 Air Defence System
The S-400 was first designed in Russia in the 1990s, and came into service in 2007. It’s an anti-aircraft system and uses 4 different types of missiles to perform its role across a wide spectrum of distances.
It’s generally regarded as one of the best air defense systems ever designed, using its radar to target bombers from 350 miles away.
The next upgrade to the S-400 is the S-500. It’s currently in development, but details are top secret. What’s clear is that it’s actually intended to take on a slightly different role by being more focused on targeting missiles, as opposed to aircraft.
The technology to track and target hypersonic objects is extremely complicated. However, once it’s perfect, it’ll keep the Russian skies secure for years to come.
Both are, essentially, the Russian equivalent to the US THAAD system that’s designed to protect against high altitude targets. This is the last line of defense against such attacks and has been installed in Allied countries just in case the worst happens.
MAARS stands for the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System. It’s an unmanned land vehicle that can replace human personnel so they can stay at a safe distance while it carries out risky tasks.
It can fire machine guns, set explosives, and help pull injured soldiers back to safety.
With a remote control system, it has 360-degree cameras, two-way communication, thermal and night vision, and lasers to help acquire targets. Its weaponry is also impressive, including an M240B machine gun and four M203 grenade launchers. Also, it can carry as much as 400 rounds of ammunition.
Future warfare will be full of automated weaponry to reduce the risk of human casualties so MAARS is surely just the beginning.
5. X-47C Combat Drone
The X-47C combat drone is currently in development by Northrop Grumman as a replacement to the X-47 A and B. It’s thought to be a stealth drone aircraft, capable of evading detection by radar, with a wingspan of 172 feet, and the ability to carry a payload weighing up to 10,000 pounds – significantly more than its predecessors.
As it is still in development, details on the full specs are classified, but if the X-47 A is anything to go by, it’s sure to be a game-changing vehicle.
It’s virtually guaranteed to be high subsonic, and possibly even supersonic if it’s possible within a reasonable budget. It’ll work as an unmanned delivery system in regions too risky for manned flights to go.
Drones, of course, are commonplace now, and vital to war efforts. The Northrop Grumman “Global Hawk” is one of the most effective in operation at the moment, where it has proved invaluable for its ability to gather intelligence and identify targets.
It’s one of the larger UAVs available now and has a much further range than other vehicles. American and German forces currently use it. However, it’s yet to go into large scale manufacturing due to the 104 million dollar costs per unit.
4. 60KW Laser Weapon
Lockheed Martin is at the forefront of new weapon design, but by far their most futuristic weapon is this, the 60KW Laser. According to the design, it needs to be on a truck or ship to knock out drones from the sky.
The beam itself is invisible to the human eye, but it packs a punch. After detecting a UAV it will track it, and fire burst for just a few seconds. That’s all it will take to incapacitate the target by superheating the circuits on board.
The laser’s ability to rapidly heat objects means that it will be effective in neutralizing incoming mortar rounds- causing explosive devices to detonate in the air before becoming a threat. This is particularly impressive because munitions like that can travel at hundreds of miles an hour, but that’s no problem for the Laser Weapon’s targeting systems.
It’s not thought to be in operation yet, though, and it’s development and full specs remain a closely guarded secret.
Lockheed aren’t the only ones experimenting with such tech either. Boeing, too, has a similar device called the Laser Avenger, which is designed to be attached to the Avenger missile system to give this air defense vehicle even greater effectiveness.
3. Super Tanks
Having first come into widespread use in the First World War as a means to overcome trench warfare, tanks have become a mainstay in a military’s arsenal. They continue to get bigger and far more powerful- none more so than the M1 Abrams, the main battle tank of the American military.
It first came into use in 1980 and was invaluable because of its multi-purpose weaponry, tough armor, and maneuverability. The US military used it in the Gulf War, Iraq war, and numerous other conflicts.
The tank has had a number of upgrades over the years, with the latest- the M1A3, expected to be deployed by 2020. This new version will have the most advanced fire control of any tank ever built. However, it will be the last iteration of the M1.
Moving forward, new tank designs will become more common, such as Poland’s PL-01 concept tank, which features an infrared camouflage system that hides it from enemies.
The US military has developed an ADAPTIV invisibility cloak, too, which, when deployed, will allow even the largest of new tank designs to be completely hidden- not just from radars and thermal cameras, but potentially even from human sight.
2. Kinetic Energy Projectile
The US version of the kinetic energy projectile weapon, that’s in testing, is made from tungsten, and launched at more than 3 times the speed of sound- at over 2 thousand miles an hour.
It basically a modified bullet designed to penetrate vehicle armor. The projectile can do this due to its lightweight outer shell that raises its muzzle velocity. After clearing the barrel, the shell falls off, leaving an aerodynamic projectile traveling at an incredibly high velocity.
When it reaches its intended target, it will break up into pieces of superheated metal fragments. The splinters can pierce most forms of conventional armor, and devastate everything in its path. By combining this technology with chemical explosives, there wouldn’t be much on a battlefield that would be able to survive.
Another weapon that looks like it’s been taken straight out of a video game is the electricity bomb, with reports having surfaced of them being used in Syria.
Rather than containing normal explosives, these bombs contain technology that wreaks havoc on enemy electrical systems, which will disable them or even cause them to explode.
According to those who have experienced their effects, anyone carrying a metal object would suffer serious burns, which would immediately neutralize forces in one swift strike.
1. Electromagnetic Railgun
The US Navy has been working on the development of an electromagnetic railgun for years. The principle of the weapon is simple. Instead of using chemical combustion, it uses magnetic fields to launch a projectile.
By combining this technology with a kinetic energy projectile, it could theoretically fire huge payloads, such as the newly designed hypervelocity low drag spike, at speeds of almost 4,500 miles an hour, at up to 100 miles away. Nothing comes close to its power.
The problem with this is that it requires a huge amount of energy. The US Navy has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on perfecting the design. However, the main limitation is the transport and generation of power. Once after overcoming these issues, it will become one of the most efficient and cheapest-to-run weapons available.
There will be plenty more secret weapons under development, which will soon become a regular part of the battlefield. Which of these secret superweapons were the most impressive to you? Are there any you would have put on the list instead? Let me know what you think in the comments down below!