5 Ways Military Conflicts Have Evolved Over Time
The concept of warfare has existed for thousands of years and, in its early days, involved the use of extremely rudimental weapons technology.
However, in recent years especially, rapid improvements in technology have caused massive changes in the way battles are fought and helped reduce the body count accrued in modern conflicts.
This short blog will be taking a look at the way military conflicts have evolved over time and how warfare has been influenced by advances in technology.
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As can be seen in systems such as the FGM-148 Javelin missile launcher, automated systems are becoming increasingly commonplace due to the accuracy and safety advantages they provide to troops on the frontline.
Similar technologies have been utilised in fighter jets for many years, however, the ever-reducing size of computer hardware and investment in new materials has now enabled infrared technology to be packed into portable firearms.
The Javelin’s on board locking capabilities allows operators to vacate the area immediately after as, after initially ‘painting’ the target and configuring a number of settings, the HEAT warhead is able to fully automate the firing process all the way until it reaches its destination.
Not only do these systems reduce the level of involvement required in firing powerful weapons, they also essentially remove human error and this helps squads to secure victory on the battlefield.
- Long Distance Engagements
Whilst long distance weapons are not particularly new (the Germans began using ‘Paris Guns’ back in 1918), their power and accuracy has increased tenfold over the last century.
In addition to super-accurate explosive weapons, soldiers are now using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s/drones) to effectively take down high value targets in hard to reach place.
The advantages these provide are immediately obvious as soldiers are now able to remain far away from the battlefield and, instead, allow highly accurate and hard-to-spot machines to locate and incapacitate their targets from the air.
Due to the considerable cost required to build and maintain these drones, the majority of enemy forces will be unlikely to respond with comparable force, making life much easier for soldiers.
Another way in which combat is favouring the use of long distance tactics is through the increasing prevalence of snipers.
Sniper rifles have become far more accurate in the last century and, now, weapons firing heavy ammunition capable of destroying enemy machinery as well as human targets (such as the Barrett M82) can now be carried by a single operator.
Furthermore, designated marksman rifles, advanced optics and other technologies are making it much easier for armed forces to land accurate shots from afar, reducing the need to enter dangerous combat zones.
- Aerial Combat
On December 17th 1903, the Wright brothers famously carried out their first successful flight of a manned airplane, covering a distance of just 852 feet.
Move forward just 57 years and, in this relatively short space of time, a joint project between NASA and the US Air Force resulted in the production of the X-15: a manned aircraft capable of 6.72 times the speed of sound or 4,520 miles per hour.
Whilst this experimental aircraft was discontinued shortly after in 1970, there are still a huge number of high performance aerial vehicles in use today.
The F-16 is a fighter jet capable of reaching speeds of 1,350 mph and being equipped with a plethora of extremely powerful weapons such as the M61 automatic cannon and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile.
There is also a huge array of support vehicles used by the military which allow for troops and vehicles to be transported great distances quickly as well as specialised aircraft which can refuel others mid-flight.
- Non-Lethal Weaponry
Whilst modern armies are equipped with immense firepower capable of taking down soldiers, vehicles and even buildings with ease, we are also seeing the development of new, non-lethal weapons, designed to prevent engagement from happening in the first place.
Weapons such as non-lethal claymore mines, sponge grenades and rubber pellet grenades are just a few examples of weapons which can be used to effectively incapacitate enemy forces without causing a single casualty.
The ‘Active Denial System’ (ADS) is another highly powerful, non-lethal weapon which is used to deter hostile crowds by subjecting targets to the sensation of an artificially intense heat.
This sensation is the result of a magnified beam of radiation being sent form the vehicle mounted weapon at the speed of light towards hostiles and is comparable to the waves found within a domestic microwave oven.
There US is also planning to introduce non-lethal laser systems capable of completely disarming drones, missiles and other airborne devices by the year 2023.
- Reduced Fatalities
A result of all points mentioned in this post, there is typically far less bloodshed in modern battles when compared to conflicts such as the Battle of Berlin and Siege of Changchun, both of which occurred in the 19th century.
To paint a better picture, these battles resulted in the deaths of 1.29 million and 425,000 people respectively – undeniably horrifying figures to comprehend.
In the present day, armed forces usually engage targets from afar with remotely operated weapons such as drones and larger unmanned aerial vehicles to minimise the body count accrued.
Warfare has changed considerably over the last century and, whilst a single casualty is still a tragedy, advancements in weapons technology have been shown to reduce casualties in war situations and help to protect countries from terror threats.