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What do you think is the future of warfare?

Cognisant

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I think mobility, weight reduction, automation, indirect fire and drone integration.

Something like a DPV, two man crew, lightly armored but enclosed (the crew also wears Kevlar suits), tube launched expendable scout drones, a robotic turret equipped with two ATGMs and a .50 automatic rifle, with perhaps dedicated anti-armor, anti-infantry, anti-air and electronic warfare variants with different loadouts.

Point is it's fast (and if electric it could be quiet too) good for scouting and hit-and-run, small enough to be hidden easily, light enough to be air lifted or deployed in en masse, able to hit tanks with indirect fire ATGMs guided by drone designators and sufficiently armored to present a hard target to small arms at range while being able to return fire on infantry with high range, accuracy and penetration.

The Kevlar suits is a theory I have about combing the merits of optimizing for the square-cube law and using Whipple armor, basically the smaller the thing you're trying to protect is the exponentially less mass you need to armor it and even a relatively thin armor shell on the vehicle turns sniping the occupants with an anti-material rifle into more of a guessing game especially since the outer armor will affect the bullet's trajectory.

The vehicle should have minimal ammunition and fuel, the idea being you airlift this thing to within a few kilometers of where it will engage the enemy, once spent it returns to the LZ either to restock and/or be taken elsewhere. Ideally there's several of these vehicles so they can perform fallback ambushes, i.e. one attacks the enemy and retreats pretty much immediately, the enemy pursues it whereupon it leads them into an ambush on favorable terrain.

This vehicle wouldn't be very effective at attacking a fortified position or entrenched enemy and would struggle to hold such a position, but with speed and mobility they'd be very good at spreading out over a wide area and hitting targets of medium/low strategic value, like bridges and power lines, seeking out anti-air and artillery platforms and generally fucking with the enemy's logistics.
 

scorpiomover

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These Machine Gun-Equipped Drones Can Accurately Hit A Human Target From 200 Meters Away



They each carry 200 bullets.

50 of them, and you can kill 10,000 people, before they need re-loading.

You don't need a single soldier to risk his life with these, as 1 person can operate up to 3 of them at the same time. So you only need 17 soldiers at your military base, to kill 10,000 rebels at one time.

All you need then, is the drone equivalent of a refuelling aircraft like the
RAF Voyager Tanker Aircraft Refuelling Tornado GR4:



Get a drone to connect, refuel and reload, and you can probably keep the drones rearming and refuelling almost indefinitely.

Then you can kill millions, without even a single Nazi-style concentration camp, and without a single German soldier having to risk his life, let alone die.
 

Cognisant

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200m is practically point blank on the modern battlefield, any halfway competent rifleman will be able to shoot these down. The advantage of something like this is that you don't need air superiority, a dedicated AA system could spot it but wouldn't have line of sight and its not worth spending a missile on.

There are anti-drone drones that could take it down, without destroying it too. Realistically you're better of using a swarm of loitering munitions, basically one of those FPV racing drones with a small bomb strapped to it.
 

Hadoblado

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It's not very useful when flying around. Drones are loud and easy to shoot down. But if you land them, you have an effective area denial and reconnaissance tool that can be placed at any height.

It doesn't need food, water, sleep, or training. It's 100% expendable (so "suicide" bombing becomes a proactive option). It can fly back for ammunition, or be restocked by other drones (an ammo supply-line drone?), meaning they travel light. You could even have fortification drones that gradually reinforce the armor of the most well-positioned units.

By making the drones static, a single-soldier could oversee many drones as most of them would be idle. AI would eventually do most of the work too.

Different sorts of drones can also cover for each other. So if you designed a heavier sniper rifle drone that could set up on a building, you can then have more expendable drones between it and anything that would be able to reach it.

Finally, drones are unaffected by a lot of stuff that would affect ordinary soldiers. Gas, extreme noise, cold/heat etc.. Meaning you can employ these weapons without concern of friendly fire.
 

Glaensaeth

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1. Major conventional "world" wars are very unlikely. Wars used to be unpredictable, with almost no information about the forces and resources available to both sides. Now wars are turning into perfect information games more resembling chess, except not symmetric. It will always be the case that one side will have more pawns and more chess pieces than the other and that weaker side will have perfect knowledge of being outmatched so it will always choose to resign and not fight over whatever contentious issue or object of value. No wars will be all-in, because threatening the soil of superpower states just asks for nuclear retaliation and desperate measures.

Let's say the next point of contention would be Taiwan as it might be. US has about 10 aircraft carriers and Taiwan has some small air force and missile defense. China has greatly superior missile artillery and air force, but has no way of capturing Taiwan if the US is ready to fight with their full force (they can completely destroy it, but not capture it for now). This will change because China can wait and build up their navy (US can only downsize their navy because they are already at max budget capacity of what they can afford). At some point China will have twice the amount of navy that the US has and then when it makes the move on Taiwan the US with perfect knowledge of the losing outcome will just evacuate some people and give it up in favor of ruining China's international reputation.

2. Humans will disappear almost entirely from the battlefield. People are too expensive to train and maintain, even disregarding drones. Training a basic 'rifleman' for the ground army costs some 30,000USD for the US and let's say 5,000USD for China. That's not counting salaries, infrastructure, command staff, training staff and everything else.
Almost everything is cost effective in killing said soldier:
- A 1000$ artillery shell / tank shell / unguided rocket (Russians can fire 30 rockets at one US infantryman and still be cost effective, the number is probably close to 100, munitions are that cheap)
- A 4000$ suicide drone - which is basically a guided missile (one is enough to kill a squad of soldiers and they don't miss, very cost effective)

The cost to train and maintain soldiers will only increase, but the cost to produce efficient drones and munitions will only decrease with every iteration of the technology. Soon after that there's going to be an introduction of fully autonomous killer drones that will get even more cost effective with every iteration.

3. In a 100 years warfare will be focused on gathering intelligence, precision operations and electronic warfare.
Any major force movements will be visible to everyone so, in the absence of any technological superiority of one side, it will require a lot of:
maneuvering to get better chances to strike,
precision strikes,
covert operations and small independent hit squads,
surveillance of the battlefield,
denying the opponent from surveying the battlefield with electronic warfare, taking out drones, satellites and all other means of gathering intel
bioterrorism, psy-ops

4. There will be no static installations of anything and there will be no major defensive installations against rockets or ICBM's. Defense against guided rockets is impossible and too expensive, even now. Static installations used to work because they were cheaper and more power efficient for the same effect one could get from a mobile unit. With the cost of technology going down every weapon system will move and the faster it moves the better it gets at dodging attacks, maneuvering for its own strikes and evading constant detection.
It's not very useful when flying around. Drones are loud and easy to shoot down. But if you land them, you have an effective area denial and reconnaissance tool that can be placed at any height.
I mean, drones can already launch missiles from 5 miles away while gliding, the only signature of them is electromagnetic and only detectable by advanced machines, perfectly silent and they will only get better, quieter and more difficult to spot. First things to be attacked will always be devices and units capable of detecting said drones or interfering with their scouting and surveillance. If one side loses detection of the enemy then it's all over, no coordinated defense is possible and the opponent has free reign to concentrate force on small points and have vastly increased efficiency.
 

Hadoblado

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These Machine Gun-Equipped Drones Can Accurately Hit A Human Target From 200 Meters Away
200m is practically point blank on the modern battlefield, any halfway competent rifleman will be able to shoot these down. The advantage of something like this is that you don't need air superiority, a dedicated AA system could spot it but wouldn't have line of sight and its not worth spending a missile on.
I mean, drones can already launch missiles from 5 miles away while gliding, the only signature of them is electromagnetic and only detectable by advanced machines, perfectly silent and they will only get better, quieter and more difficult to spot. First things to be attacked will always be devices and units capable of detecting said drones or interfering with their scouting and surveillance. If one side loses detection of the enemy then it's all over, no coordinated defense is possible and the opponent has free reign to concentrate force on small points and have vastly increased efficiency.

I was speculating assuming the above context was the current maximum efficiency. I know nothing of military specs.
 

scorpiomover

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200m is practically point blank on the modern battlefield, any halfway competent rifleman will be able to shoot these down.
One advantage of drones, is they're small, and thus, you can make LOTS of them, and send LOTS of them into the battlefield.

Another advantage is they're small, and so much harder to hit.

Another advantage is they're run by computers, and so can react and move much faster than most humans.

One soldier can probably shoot down one extremely slow drone that is the same size as a human, and reacts as slowly as a human.

But he probably would struggle to shoot down dozens of drones that are much smaller than your average human, and reacts much more quickly than your average human. In reality, they would probably shoot him first, with a kill shot.

The advantage of something like this is that you don't need air superiority, a dedicated AA system could spot it but wouldn't have line of sight and its not worth spending a missile on.

There are anti-drone drones that could take it down, without destroying it too.
25 years ago, I spoke to a government scientist about shooting down nukes. He explained that nuclear missiles contained about 200 warheads, 199 dummies and 1 nuclear warhead. So then if you shoot one of the warheads, there's still a 99.5% chance that the nuclear warhead will hit its target and blow up the town.

You could have as many anti-drones as dummy warheads or drones. But that would be a swarm of anti-drone drones vs a swarm of drones. You're no better off than when German troops and British troops were fighting each other in World War 1.

Realistically you're better of using a swarm of loitering munitions, basically one of those FPV racing drones with a small bomb strapped to it.
That's the idea.
 

Cognisant

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I recall reading a graphic novel about these starfighter pilots who basically decided the outcome of intergalactic wars, like they would duel and the losing side would blow themselves up because without an equally good starfighter on their side the outcome of the war was a mathematical certainty. Silly premise but the story had a very epic/mythological feel to it and the artwork was very baroque, like old school WH40K art was baroque but less grimdark and more classical sci-fi/fantasy eye candy. So frustrating that I can't remember the name.

Anyway point is the scale of warfare has trended downwards over time at least in terms of manpower and that trend doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon, so we might someday see wars decided by a duel of sorts.

I mean, drones can already launch missiles from 5 miles away while gliding, the only signature of them is electromagnetic and only detectable by advanced machines, perfectly silent and they will only get better, quieter and more difficult to spot. First things to be attacked will always be devices and units capable of detecting said drones or interfering with their scouting and surveillance. If one side loses detection of the enemy then it's all over, no coordinated defense is possible and the opponent has free reign to concentrate force on small points and have vastly increased efficiency.
This is basically the rationale behind the F-35 program.
 

scorpiomover

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Anyway point is the scale of warfare has trended downwards over time at least in terms of manpower and that trend doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon, so we might someday see wars decided by a duel of sorts.
About 20 years ago, I was saying to a friend that wars might be better decided by a video-game match.

Either that, or put the leading politicians in a boxing ring and let them duke it out.

However, I doubt they'd agree to a boxing match, because they seem to be mostly over 70, and so the fight would probably be decided by which had a heart attack first.
 

Cognisant

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True but suppose China made a move on Taiwan and the USA made them a deal, three F-35s versus three J-20s winner takes all, no further conflict necessary, because whoever has the better stealth fighter is going to have a huge tactical advantage.

For China refusing such a challenge would be a huge embarrassment and admission of technological inferiority, and if China won the US public would lose the will to fight. Likewise for the USA this could be a really cheap way to either win the war outright before it even starts, or a way for US politicians to save face as they give up on supporting Taiwan, they're keeping a promise after all.
 

scorpiomover

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True but suppose China made a move on Taiwan and the USA made them a deal, three F-35s versus three J-20s winner takes all, no further conflict necessary, because whoever has the better stealth fighter is going to have a huge tactical advantage.
Much as I like this idea, I think that Napoleon would have gone for it. But I also that it would not work in the modern day, because of all the game-playing that goes around today.

But kudos to you for at least making the suggestion. :like:

For China refusing such a challenge would be a huge embarrassment and admission of technological inferiority,
If the USA had the superior fighter, then the Chinese would claim that the Americans want this to happen because in a real all-out war, the People's Liberation Army (2,035,000 soldiers) would decimate the US regular army (480,893 soldiers).

Then they'd go on and on about how Americans are violent warmongers, which is proved by all their mass shootings.

and if China won the US public would lose the will to fight. Likewise for the USA this could be a really cheap way to either win the war outright before it even starts,
According to a Chinese poster whose uncle is a member of the CCP, and whose girlfriend is a member of the CCP, the CCP hasn't given up on anything that it originally believed, despite China embracing capitalism.

or a way for US politicians to save face as they give up on supporting Taiwan, they're keeping a promise after all.
Biden already gave Afghanistan to the Taleban. If they give up on Taiwan as well, I would suspect that the sharks will smell blood in the water. In which case, Russia may attempt to reclaim Poland.
 

Daddy

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A real war with advanced nuclear powers and up-to-date technology is pretty much MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), unless one side can figure out how to eliminate all nuclear threats. Then it comes down to technology, then strategy and tactics, and then brute force manpower.
 

ZenRaiden

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Vietnam Iraq are good examples of what war does.
Merely winnning war is not necessarily a positive outcome.
There are spoils of war, what of them?
Colonoalism with out slavery would not work.
Imagine slaves that want a fair wage and gasp a vacation
So most war goes hand in hand with exploitation.
 

Cognisant

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Nukes are overrated, the cost in collateral is so great the only side that would seriously consider using them is the losing side and even then only as a final fuck you knowing that they've basically signed their own death certificate.

For example NATO and the USA are not going to nuke Russia, they can just deny Russia access to the global economy and the complexity of the Russian economy will naturally deteriorate over time and their technological development will stagnate.

Russia could nuke the USA or NATO, or at least try to, and immediately get wiped off the map.
 

Daddy

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Right, but USA and Russia aren't technically at war. Ukraine is a proxy-war for USA interests/values/politics rather. If Ukraine had a modern military with nuclear weapons, this would have escalated rather quickly to MAD.

Basically, it's easy and normal for a first-world country to pick on a second or third world country; that happens all the time and is usually one-sided, unless a first-world country backs a side and you just have constant fighting for years, until each side agrees on some kind of ceasefire. It's just that Russia is backing itself in the war this time, rather than a proxy coalition. But it's not a "real" war in the sense of superpowers fighting each other, like in World War II or World War I.

So given all that I'm impressed that nukes have been used as a deterrant against first-world countries attacking each other for roughly 80 years now. I know this probably isn't a popular opinion, but I think stabilizing and building a nation's military and nuclear attack capabilities (rather than trying to reduce or disarm nukes) is necessary in order to assure you aren't picked on by a nation with better fighting tech and aggressive idealizations. It makes you a threat to other countries, which everybody always scoffs at or wants to justify attacking and disarming you (Bush and the Iraqi war), but once you have an established military and nuclear arsenal, it's absolutely necessary if you want other countries to tread lightly and do their best to leave you alone or try not to take obvious advantage of you.

So I just don't think technology is as important as having an updated nuclear arsenal as a deterrant for war. But I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem so. I suppose eventually mad men will launch nukes and MAD will become a sad reality and we will no longer value nukes as a deterrant, but so far we are doing good against that.
 

Glaensaeth

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A real war with advanced nuclear powers and up-to-date technology is pretty much MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), unless one side can figure out how to eliminate all nuclear threats. Then it comes down to technology, then strategy and tactics, and then brute force manpower.
We should start questioning the MAD doctrine in a literal sense. I think it's a political scheme and the population doesn't understand what it entails.

This is especially relevant in the futuristic context where the illusion of MAD will be questioned and debunked.
I can't be bothered to link stuff, but out of the current 13,000 warheads, at least 50% is not currently deployed on rockets. So only 6,500 is launch ready. Out of that 30% will fail to launch or miss due to outdated and poorly maintained systems (Realistically NATO nukes will have much better maintenance and successful launch rates than Russian ones, closer to 10% failure for NATO and 50% failure for Russia). That's just typical missile failure rate. Out of the 4550 warheads that launch, the missile defense will stop less than 0.1%. Missile defense is a lie that's used by the military to acquire more funding, it's a technical impossibility. Even if in the next 30 years a successful missile defense system will approach a 50% success rate on stopping ICBM's with 20 warheads and decoys each, the technology for hyper-sonic vehicles which already exists makes that future defense obsolete (and despite that USA and NATO are overly investing into stupid, impossible and obsolete defense technology)

What can happen if 4,500 warheads of typical 300 kiloton size go off? Definitely not a global nuclear winter or inhospitable climate. The end result would be about 1 billion dead and industry and technology going back 100 years. It would take up to a century to return to modern day civilization standards.

It's entirely possible that the more ruthless countries already realize that MAD is an illusion. The price to pay isn't impossibly great and some leaderships, especially totalitarian ones (looking at China), may decide to do it. China would be a winner of the total nuclear war. It will emerge with a superior population pool and will rebuild to modern levels faster than any western power, which will allow it to grab more influence than it can have if it plays nice. What's especially enticing for Chinese leadership is that they have a completely subservient populace that wouldn't oppose the deployment of nuclear weapons. (In any case for China to attempt this and expect to win, they would need to increase their nuclear weapon stockpiles to surpass western levels and have bigger conventional military than the US)

I'm not saying that China would do it, but it's a possibility for large nuclear super powers. Assuming there ever is a situation where one ruthless super power wanted something and prepared to fight during and after a total war for world domination.

In any case the nuclear war as @Cognisant mentioned is a defensive measure for losing countries. The advantage for technologically and conventionally superior powers is that they can keep pushing and destroying the inferior power with conventional forces without breaking the rules whilst preparing for the nuclear scenario. The inferior power can only saber rattle or make an actual suicide strike, they have no fine control over the range of aggression between soft power and suicide.

Totalitarian (ruthless) countries that surpass other powers in terms of conventional forces that are also ready to start and fight through a nuclear war are in a good position to start aggressively taking all objectives that they want for themselves. The only strategy to stop (or contain) them would be to change their perspective on what objective is worth the price and how costly each objective is going to be for them.

Ukraine is a proxy-war for USA interests/values/politics rather.
Just so everyone knows. In total the west has shipped about 300 pieces of artillery and tanks to Ukraine. That's barely enough to form 9 heavy weapon battalions. Russia started the war with 120 heavy weapon battalions and holds a 5 to 1 firepower advantage in artillery and ammunition stocks. Ukraine is rationing artillery shells due to their low stocks and is desperately trying to buy soviet-era ammunition on the global market.

Ukraine is mostly in this war alone with the West not equipping even 8% of their forces and Ukraine is going to be paying a lot for said equipment with loans and reserves that they have.

So given all that I'm impressed that nukes have been used as a deterrant against first-world countries attacking each other for roughly 80 years now. I know this probably isn't a popular opinion, but I think stabilizing and building a nation's military and nuclear attack capabilities (rather than trying to reduce or disarm nukes) is necessary in order to assure you aren't picked on by a nation with better fighting tech and aggressive idealizations.
I'm not sure if USA or NATO is aware of this, but helping Ukraine win is an anti-proliferation strategy. If Ukraine loses then all regional powers, including Ukraine, will start (or restart) their nuclear weapon programs. If NATO can't guarantee stability, then it's everyone for themselves.

Poland was halfway done developing nuclear weapons way back in the 1970's, this project was discovered and shut down by the Soviets, but it can be revived. Ukraine has a large nuclear power plant technology base, getting to nuclear weapons is quite trivial from there. A lot of other countries will follow their example and there's going to be a world where almost every nation is nuclear capable and posturing defensively against the west or Russia. That would be a dangerous world to live in and an unstable one too, but we'll see how Russia does in Ukraine.
 

ZenRaiden

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Without sufficient AI everything has to be controlled remotely.
If you do get AI everything can become autonomous.
So you can build every tech, but exclude the operation crew.
That means the part of a plane that carries the pilot and oxygen and ejection seat, can now be more space for fuel or a larger computer, or more ammo.
G force is also not an issue anymore.
We can already build autonomous missile system where missiles choose, and fire at target. Of course these are still controlled by humans for obvious limitations to decision making. But even humans can shoot down an airliner by accident.

Imagine tanks that are half the size, but with more fuel and ammo?
Also these tanks would not be vulnerable to shockwave or heat wave or shrapnel or penetration the same way as human crew is.
These tanks could probably go through a minefield that would rock the whole tank unit and it would barely slow down.

While normal humans would probably be dead or so shaken up they would be unable to go on.

Drones are basically human operated, and if not they are fairly limited in use.
If I remember correctly the US drone strikes were cited to be war crimes due to some drone operators hitting wrong targets.

Also AI does not need training.
A pilot needs lost of years of learning and training, food, shelter, and life along with that.
That cost goes into millions not to mention that every hour of training runs into thousands of dollars just so the pilot can learn to put few rounds into a dirty target at the ground and not die in the process or not kill someone else.

So for every human replaced by AI you are gaining.
I mean even the cheapest soldiers require lots of training just so few neurons in their brain connect cluster together and they can do their job on battlefield.

Drones are nice, but element of surprise is short in war, since cheap replicate tech means soon enough your enemy will have the same tech.
Especially if its cheap and effective tech.
So the drawback of every good weapon that is highly efficient is that your sling shot with a round stone is now yours enemies sling shot with a round pebble.
Two equally good enemies are not fighting a good fight they have even forces.
 

scorpiomover

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Imagine tanks that are half the size, but with more fuel and ammo?
I saw those on the film "Toys", in 1992.

Anyway, I just read that they were being deployed in the Ukraine war. Great for the USA. They get a new battleground to field-test new weaponry.

If you do get AI everything can become autonomous.
AIs can be programmed to be Malthusians and then save humanity from over-population by killing billions of people.
 

Cognisant

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Imagine tanks that are half the size, but with more fuel and ammo?
Better to have more effective logistics so your combat vehicle can carry less ammo and fuel, there's certainly a logistical advantage to a vehicle that can carry a week's worth of supplies but that's not worth much if it gets ammo-racked and the whole thing explodes or burns out.
 
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