02 January 2013

FWS Topics: The Future Military Technology of BLACK OPS: II

It was a good Xmas for me, my grandmother bought me Black Ops: II and another three months of XBOX Live. After an evening at the in-laws, I went home, cracked open Black Ops: II,and was more impressed with the campaign than the previous Black Ops game. For the New Year, I welcomed it in with a glass of Champagne and Black Ops: II online. While the original game was deeply flawed, and the on-line play was broken, this new MSF shooter had some real interesting gameplay, and cool near-future technology. After only a few hours, I decided that FWS should cover the 2025 military technology seen in the game.

The Bullet vs. Ballistic Armor Contest
I could not help but realize that most of the weapons in Black Ops: II, are gear for defeating the advancement of body armor that exists in 2025. Either taking the path of high RPMs, or specially developed HV bullets, or even resorting to larger rounds, like the 7.62mm. Take the .45 ACP KAP-40 handgun and the fictional B23R for example. Fully automatic to deal with soldiers of the future using advanced body armor, allowing for the pistol to be effective when the shit gets close. This is the same theory behind such SMGs in the game like the CZ Scorpion EVO and the fictional PDW-57.

X-Ray Sniper Scope
X-ray scopes mounted to sniper rifles have seen in popular media since at least 1996's Eraser when an 'x-ray scope' was amounted to the handheld EM-1 railgun. And it seems like a good theory, x-rays allow you to the person behind cover, and then supercharge your gun and blow them away.
Sounds good, but it is not possible. I've worked in a ICU for ten years, and most x-ray done in the room are done with massive machines on wheels like the one in the picture. While smaller x-ray machines are possible, dental scanners, and some new technology coming down the pipe, but nothing that would allow one to mount them to an M14. And besides, x-rays are the wrong technology. Thermal is much better and current technology, x-rays require close proximity to be effective, something like a snake-cam would be a better example of use of handheld x-ray technology to view through walls.

The 'Gecko' Climbing Nano-Gloves
Black Ops II features a near-future technology that could alter how operators scale building, and there are two approaches to this technology that borrow both from nature. One borrows the millions tiny hairs on the pads of the Gecko, allowing for an adhesive microfiber that is strong enough to support weight and allow for smooth scaling. Prototypes of these gloves exist and I saw them in use on small robot on NOVA. The other method being explored is via an beetle from Florida that uses water to climb leafs that allows for the beetle to support its weight.
During the recent Mission Impossible movie, Tom Cruise scales the Dubai skyscraper using magnetic gloves and knee pads. According to most sources these gloves do exist, that includes former DELTA FORCE field commander Paul Blaber, who stated that DELTA had tested them out. The gloves featured in Black Ops: II seem to use an on/off electrical adhesive system to free-climb the rock face. This could allow Special Operations units to pack a simple pair of gloves rather than tons of gear.

The Flying Squirrel Suit
 Wingsuits are already a reality, used by the military and extreme sports. There is military powered human-flight suit in development by the German company ESG is Gryphon single-man flying suit. In the game, these wing-suits seem to be more compact, allowing for soldiers to glide in, then take to combat immediately. From the in-game footage, it seems that the wings are next-gen material coupled with advanced HUD software. With wing-suits already in use, the ones in Black-Ops: II will be a reality soon...I just hope that are called the 'Rocky' suits by the military.

The TITUS-6 Flechette Launcher
One of the more HALO like weapons in Black Ops: II is the TITUS-6 (not Caprica Six). This secondary weapon is a magazine-fed shotgun coupled with an explosive flechette launcher. This technology was seen in some of the Star Wars videos as the FC-1 flechette launcher and in HALO has the needler. From my research, this is one of the 'outside' technologies that was being explored in the late 1980's when it was believed that flechettes could be the next leap in arms technology, but nothing came of it. The explosive package on the flechette would have to be compact and lightweight to not weight down the flight dynamics of the dart. The advantage of the explosive-tipped flechette projectile would be planting the explosive, not allowing the target to dodge the explosion.

Laser Defensive Turrets
The Tactical High Energy Laser are seen in the game onboard the USS Obama Aircraft Carrier and at the Singapore Port Strike-Force level. These are a reality, and will be soon part of the defensive system on US combat naval vessels, and function in a similar role has the Phalanx CIWS. These DEW system have proven their effectiveness in combat, shooting down mortars in live-fire testing, and the IDF is pushing for active units for knocking down incoming missiles and shells. By 2025, defensive DEW turrets will be a reality.

The Storm PSR Sniper Rifle

According to the writing on the side of this next-gen sniper rifle, the 'Storm PSR' utilizes the electronic launching system used by Metal Storm weapons. The ability of this sniper rifle is two-fold. One is to fire different types of rounds via the same barrel, similar to the Metal Storm weapons, and the electronic firing system can be modified to fit the tactical situation. Got a tango behind a wall? No sweat! Charge the electric firing system to maximum and fire that sabot through the rock and kill that mother fucker! At the moment, this technology is fictional...there is no Storm PSR. And it is unlikely that the Metal Storm company will be around in 2025...they are already bankrupt.

The 'Taser' Galvaknuckles 
In most of the 2025 levels, but not online, the player will melee with a set of futuristic brass knuckles that seem to shock the hostile dead or just out...sort of the Black Ops: II Vulcan Nerve Pinch. Taser knuckles do exist, and you can buy them for self-defense, and they would make a cool less-than-lethal system...but could they kill? Yes, if set high enough, you could shock someone to death, and unlike a knife or tomahawk, the first blow would be the last. Rumors state that SOF prison grab operations have the operators outfitted with weapons like this.

The Silent Guardian System
Microwaves are just great for nuking popcorn and meatloaf, but also for driving off the bad guys and angry mobs. In military lingo, it is called 'active denial system' and it is a non-lethal DEW system, normally mounted on vehicles for breaking crowds and denying access to an area, like a FOB. These are a reality and appear in Black Ops: II has a killstreak reward and does damage the longer someone is in range of the microwave heat-ray. Large scale application of this technology has been slowed by protest and they were pulled from duty in A-Stan in 2010.   

The Target Finder Gun Slight

Okay...how the hell does this thing work? How does the tiny computer inside of the scope process the data to determine if a person is hostile? Does it read their minds like in Minority Report? My only guess is that the scope uses the user's local network to scan the area, and any that are using a known enemy signal are deemed hostile. This is most likely a completely fictional piece of next-gen technology.

Unmanned Armed Ground Vehicle (UAGV
Several unmanned armed ground drone exist in the world of 2025. The smaller automated ground robot (AGR) that can be dropped via helicopter and is lightly armed and armored, but fully independent. The AGRs are seen as a mobile support weapon platform and scout for the flesh-and-blood human soldiers.
These AGRs are similar to the real-world UGVs under developed, which are tracked and armed with a LMG. These are not fully part of the US Military, but it is believed that within a few years, armed UGVs will be the norm.
The big brother of the AGR in Black Ops: II is the CLAW (or cognitive land assault weapon) and is more akin to Japanese Anime Mecha than the trash-can sized AGRs. Armed with a 7.62mm (?) minigun, grenade launcher, and flamethrower. These are a walking tank and take the technology directly from the Boston Dynamics BigDog walker that is being developed has a walking flatbed cargo hauler for troops in the field. This legged squad support system could led to the CLAW of 2025.  

Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS)
A few of these are seen in Black Ops: II, and in for killstreak on multiplayer. Currently, Boeing has the X-45 and the Navy carrier-based X-46 (see right) unmanned combat air system drones. These diff from the smaller Predator drones in ability and mission. While the Predator is designed for intel gathering and direct strike against specific targets, the X-45 is more akin to the B-2 bombers. A squadron of these could be stationed onboard a carrier and used for bombing campaign, all without risking pilots.

The Hypersonic (MACH 7+) Cruise Missile
Mentioned in the 'Shipwrecked' Strike-Force mission, these over MACH 7 missile systems are coming reality. These would be uses as a defensive  measure against incoming missiles or taking out threats. It is best to think of the hypersonic missiles has a global missile defense shield or even patriot missile system. These could be a different path to a defensive shield that met with such heated debate by the global community, instead of a base in Alaska, how about every single US submarine armed with these things? At the moment of launch of nuclear missiles from North Korea, a US sub in the pacific could launch an interceptor missile that runs faster than the hostile missile. These are rumored to be in development coupled with ramjet engines.  

The TacPad 
This is the tricorder of Black Ops: II. It is seen in the hands of David Mason and Mike Harper, and is the electronic jack-of-all-trades is seen eavesdropping, controlling drones, making calls, surfing porn, and getting fresh intel from command. Could these things exist? With the major advancement in computer since the 1990's, there is no reason to believe that powerful wearable computers with a variety of functions will be used in 2025 by soldiers.
Already today, ruggedized computer are on the battlefield, from Iraq to the cold mountains of A-stan that feed intel directly to the soldiers and allow for data to flow back to HQ on the progress of the mission. One of the similar computers to the tacpad is the General Dynamics Itronix GD300 that has touch-screen technology and allows for access to mission data, updated intel. For the real-world tacpad to function has seen on-screen, I imagine it would have to tap into a larger system, like a wearable network. However, for the most part, the tacpad of 2025 will be a reality...can I get one in tiger stripe?      

Active Camouflage Suits
Science fiction has always wanted to design a invisibility suit, and have been the stuff of ancient lore, but today, we seem to be one of the edge of this being a real technological marvel.
Games like Black Ops: II and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier feature invisibility materiel, making them close to the Predator. One company, Hyper Stealth Biotechnology has working prototypes of material that can mimic the local surrounds, making the wear 'invisible'.  This bending light metamaterials is so effective that it even renders the wearer invisible to NVDs. The company has said that the US and Canadian governments are taking the technology to the next level.  There were rumors, fueled by an unusual video from Iraq, that the US military has these suits already in combat. Here that is that video:

Unmanned Aerial Armed Vehicle (UAAV)
Unmanned drones are a reality of modern warfare today, the war on terror could have be waged in the way it is without these robotic warriors. UAVs are not just for hovering over a target and gathering intel, they are also for offensive operations. In Black Ops: II, smaller UAAVs called MQ-27 'Dragonfire' are armed 40mm machine gun and are very maneuverable. These are used fro escort duty, protection, and direct-action missions. Given their small size, they are limited ammo, range, and armor. Robotic vehicles like the MQ-27 are fully possible, and most likely will exist has an vehicle sandwiched the larger unmanned aircraft and the unmanned armed ground vehicle.


  1. I'm a big fan of Black Ops II and for the most part I do not find the technology too far fetched. However, I'm right there with you when I try to figure out the target finding scope. It must be alien technology... :)

    1. low resolution hig aperture infrared sensors coped whit a computer filter

  2. The targeting scope could be some sort of supped up T-ray scanner.....

  3. I'm guess maybe that Treyarch has access to the Cyberdyne labs that have pieces of the T-101 Terminator...and the T-Scanner is a good guess

  4. T-ray scanners in handheld form exist now Will...seriously.

    Or it could be an infrasonic scan system, basically pulsed infrasound is sent out and echos off the target and some fancy software builds up the image.

    Doh!, just reading back you meant the other target scanner and not the one
    to see through walls...I am slow today.

    Anyhow I'm guessing it's some sort of IFF system each guy carries and the enemy either doesn't have it or has a different coade for their own ones.
    Like an aircraft

    1. I honestly (wouldn't be/am not) surprised by the idea of some of the realistic technologies here already being either tested or used in the field by special operation forces.

      Say, William, have you ever heard of an electrolaser? It's a type of electroshock weapon that uses a laser to ionize the air, creating a laser-induced plasma channel on which an electric current is delivered to a target?

    2. Ignore that reply.

      First time posting here and I mistakenly opened the wrong comment box.

  5. I honestly (wouldn't be/am not) surprised by the idea of some of the realistic technologies here already being either tested or used in the field by special operation forces.

    Say, William, have you ever heard of an electrolaser? It's a type of electroshock weapon that uses a laser to ionize the air, creating a laser-induced plasma channel on which an electric current is delivered to a target?

  6. I have...but it has been a long damn time since I read up on it...thanks for jogging my memory! Plan on adding that one when I write the laser blogpost!

  7. nice research
    good job

  8. With the target finder, it could be that soldiers are tooling around with enough electronics that it doesn't compromise their position any more than their normal gear would to carry active IFF beacons. So it highlights any soldier-sized contact that doesn't match the location of a valid IFF broadcast. That would certainly be more sensible that it being some sort of visual analysis AI thingus.

  9. After playing the game over the last few months, I think your conclusion is the most valid I've heard. It would make sense for future troopers to be outfitted with IFF tags, like modern day wearable items that in NVGs that lit up to prevent friendly fire.

    1. Of course that doesn't really cover why it works in the past (when soldiers aren't carrying personal electronics for it to pick up) but then using the future guns in the past is just for fun so I wouldn't expect them to try to implement something that would make them less fun.

    2. I've seen some basic forms of this tech. For IFF stuff like blue force tracker has been enhanced via ir transmitters in the helmet which allows for frequencies to be set. The scope of the weapon is actually a hi def screen similar to some smartphones paired with a laser range finder. In this was distance is determined, shapes can be tracked and friendlies identified. The big hump in the road is civilians in a combat zone. You can't just go in and say everything without a friendly iff code is a target except in very specific RoE situaions (such as assualting an established enemy base). On thing it does help though is allowing for tracking of any target and helping to adjust aim accordingly ie:

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Also, re: the Storm PSR: it's not actually charging, it's supposed to be queueing up a multi-round burst fired incredibly quickly, so that every bullet strikes the same point on the target for added penetrating power. Metal Storm did claim this as an actual ability of the technology, but it's a completely fictional weapon.

  13. When I think of anonymous tanks I think of Ghost in the shell. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK8V9jG7Wjg

  14. Unmanned Armed Ground Vehicle (UAGV) while it is new in both Real life and in games. The earliest UAGV seen in game (I still have hard time just to say this) was in the original 1994 X COM UFO Defense game it was known as the Heavy Weapons Platform(s) or H.W.P they were the support (and armor) of X COM troops.