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April, 12

What Military Technologies Does Each Country Excel At?

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Military technology constantly evolves, with countries vying to develop the most advanced weapons and systems. But which countries are leading the way in each key area?

No country excels at all military technologies, from the United States’ stealth aircraft to China’s hypersonic weapons. However, several countries have developed a particular expertise in certain areas.

This article will examine the military technologies each of the world’s leading military powers excels at. We will also discuss the implications of this for global security.

In no particular order, here are the countries and the military technologies they excel at:

1. Switzerland

You know, Switzerland’s military readiness is a fascinating topic that really gets my curiosity going. It’s one of those things that makes you wonder how a neutral country can be so well-prepared for any scenario.

First off, let’s talk about those Swiss bunkers. It’s mind-boggling how they can accommodate more than their entire population. That’s serious overcapacity – a statement about the Swiss commitment to their people’s safety.

Then there’s the idea of turning highways into runways – now, that’s something you don’t see every day. They remove those lane separations, and voila, you’ve got a runway. And those airbases carved into mountains? That’s like something out of a James Bond movie.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The Swiss Air Force has office hours! Can you believe that? It’s almost comical – all that heavy armor, and they’re in bed at night. Plus, the noise level in the mountains during tourist season – I get it, but it’s still surprising.

The Swiss have this deep-rooted paranoia about defense, and it’s not without reason. Their strategic location in the Alps has made them a tempting target throughout history. During the Cold War, they built a colossal militia-based defense system that could rival any nation’s. If anyone thought of invading Switzerland, they’d find a nation ready to defend itself tooth and nail.

And mandatory bunkers? Well, that’s taking preparedness to a whole new level. This national building code gives every Swiss citizen quick access to a shelter.

hidden-swiss-bunkers-19

Photo credit

Those mountain bunkers and hidden cannon placements are like something out of a spy movie. Imagine being an invader and suddenly realizing you’re in the firing range of one of those cannons.

What’s even more intriguing is the disguised military installations. You could be hiking towards what looks like a quaint mountain chalet, and it’s got machine gun slits when you take a closer look. It’s all part of Switzerland’s master plan to blend defense with civilian life.

As for the Swiss Air Force, they may be small, but they’re incredibly secretive. Their fighter jets are tucked away in those mountain tunnels. There’s even a rumor that runways disappear into the mountains when not in use – now, that’s some next-level concealment.

But what really caught my attention was how Swiss military pilots fly in the Alps without ILS and GPS. They know the geography like the back of their hand, and when the weather gets bad, they get guidance from ground stations. It’s a level of trust that’s simply mind-boggling.

Switzerland’s military preparedness is a testament to its unique approach to defense. It’s a blend of historical paranoia, geographic adaptability, and a deep-rooted commitment to protect their people, and it’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Its history traces back to colonial wars, particularly in Indochina and Algeria. In these challenging environments, wheeled vehicles outperformed tanks due to their adaptability to the poor infrastructures of these regions. Even after France departed from Africa, they exerted significant influence through various military interventions.

This interventionism and a commitment to maintaining a highly mobile army have driven France’s development of powerful wheeled vehicles since the 1900s.

One of the notable pioneers in this domain was the “Carron” armored car, the first-ever serial-produced armored car in history. Designed by a Georgian engineer for the Russian Empire but manufactured in France, it marked the beginnings of French expertise in this field.

The Panhard AML is another standout in France’s wheeled vehicle history. Designed in the late ’50s during the Algerian War, the AML became one of the most successful armored cars globally. It was known for its lightness, mobility, reliability, and firepower, with the ability to be armed with a 60mm mortar or a 90mm anti-tank gun. More than 30 countries still operate AMLs to this day.

France’s reliance on wheeled vehicles continues today. The Renault VAB is a prime example, serving as the standard armored personnel carrier. It comes in various configurations, with around 3,900 in service in the French military. The VBMR Griffon will replace these in the coming years.

The ERC-90 and AMX-10RC “armored cars” also play significant roles. The ERC-90, developed by Panhard in the late ’70s, is a lightweight and fast vehicle, although it has lighter armor. It is ideal for peacekeeping missions and security operations.

AMX-10RCs in Mali, 2013. The AMX-10RC was the armored workhorse of the French Army in both the Malian conflict and Operation Daguet; in comparison to the ERC-90, it is heavier, but better armored, and more advanced (it notably have night vision systems, the COTAC fire constrol system, thermal imaging systems…)
AMX-10RCs in Mali, 2013. The AMX-10RC was the armored workhorse of the French Army in both the Malian conflict and Operation Daguet; in comparison to the ERC-90, it is heavier but better armored and more advanced (it notably has night vision systems, the COTAC fire control system, thermal imaging systems…)

On the other hand, the AMX-10RC, in service since the early ’80s, is more of a wheeled light tank. It’s heavier, armed with a potent 105mm L/48 anti-tank gun, and offers better protection than the ERC.

With the end of the Cold War, the French military transitioned to wheeled infantry fighting vehicles, most notably the VBCI, introduced in 2008. This heavyweight is equipped with a 25mm autocannon and is designed to carry a nine-man combat team.

The AMX-10RC showing it’s hydropneumatic suspensions; the vehicle can “depress” toward each flank, or the front or rear of the vehicle; this can be used to go through uneasy terrain, and even, in some conditions, to improve the firing angles.
The AMX-10RC shows its hydropneumatic suspensions; the vehicle can “depress” toward each flank or the front or rear of the vehicle; this can be used to go through uneasy terrain and even, in some conditions, to improve the firing angles.

The Panhard VBL is another unsung hero in the French military. It serves as a versatile workhorse for tasks where heavier vehicles might struggle. It’s used for scouting, as a liaison vehicle, a command post, an anti-tank missile carrier, and more. With over 1,200 in service in the French Army, the VBL has gained international attention, with 19 other nations operating some units.

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A VBL and a VAB in Mali, 2013. Both vehicles are used for a vast number of missions in the French Army, and both are regarded as valuable assets, especially during overseas interventions.
A VBL and a VAB in Mali, 2013. Both vehicles are used for a vast number of missions in the French Army, and both are regarded as valuable assets, especially during overseas interventions.

In the grand scheme of modern militaries, France is perhaps the closest to being an entirely wheeled force. Besides the main battle tank, engineering vehicles, and an older self-propelled gun, almost everything in the French military is a wheeled vehicle, from infantry fighting vehicles to ambulances mortar carriers to mobile command posts. France’s expertise in this domain has made them world leaders, and their commitment to developing advanced wheeled vehicles is evident in the pipeline, with the likes of the VBMR Griffon and the EBRC Jaguar set to replace older models.

5. South Korea

Let’s delve into South Korea’s military prowess, particularly its focus on sheer firepower. It’s intriguing to see how their military strategy revolves around this concept, and it’s all because of their neighbor on the north side, North Korea.

In South Korea, military enthusiasts have a quirky nickname for their armed forces – they call them “Hwaryuk Ducku” or “firepower-taku,” a nod to their intense focus on firepower.

South Korea's Military Tech

This emphasis on firepower and mechanized units directly responds to the unique threat North Korea poses. North Korea maintains an enormous, if not particularly high-quality, army. Consequently, the prospect of a second Korean War would likely result in a full-scale land-centered conflict. So, South Korea’s military strategy adopted a Soviet-style model that heavily prioritizes artillery and tanks.

Let’s start with their artillery, which is truly remarkable. South Korea boasts the most self-propelled artillery per capita and land mass globally. Moreover, they possess the largest caliber artillery in the world, placing them ahead of even the U.S. They are in close competition with China and Russia in this department, but the key differentiator is that South Korea’s entire artillery arsenal is world-class.

Another South Korean Military Technology

Their self-propelled artillery includes 1,100 K9 Thunders, equipped with 155mm/52 caliber guns. These beasts have a fire rate of 6 rounds per minute and a range of 41 kilometers. Moreover, all of them are slated to be upgraded to the K9A1 version by 2030. Interestingly, they are highly cost-efficient compared to other high-quality self-propelled guns like the PzH2000.

In addition to the K9 Thunders, they have around 1,200 K55s (licensed from the U.S. M109A2). Many of them have been upgraded to K55A1, approaching the power of the K9. The plan is to upgrade all of them by 2030. They also maintain around 2,700 155mm towed artillery units and 2,000 105mm towed artillery units.

Now, onto their tanks. South Korea is also a world leader in this category, boasting the most 3rd generation or newer tanks per capita and per land mass. Their latest offering, the K2 Black Panther, is a technological marvel rivaled by the Leopard 2a7 and T-14.

In terms of tanks, they have 1,027 K1s, which resemble the early versions of the M1 Abrams and are manufactured by the same company. The plan is to upgrade them to 3rd to 3.5th generation K1E1 in the near future. Additionally, they possess 484 K1A1s, upgraded K1s equipped with a 120mm/L44 cannon. These are slated for upgrades to 3.5th generation K1A2 soon. Furthermore, they have 100 K2 Black Panther tanks, considered among the most technologically advanced in the world. These 3.5th generation tanks feature cannons similar to the 120mm/L55 Rheinmetall, and more are in production. On a somewhat surprising note, South Korea also houses about 780 variants of the M48.

And here’s a fun tidbit – South Korea has 35 T-80U tanks, alongside some other Russian weapons. This unique situation arose because the Soviet Union collapsed while owing a significant debt to South Korea. Russia offered these non-export, authentic Russian versions of weapons as a form of payment.

However, the true testament to South Korea’s technological superiority can be seen in the K2 Black Panther. It was the world’s first tank to employ the In-Arm Suspension Unit, enhancing its unique “kneeling” ability and making it ideal for mountainous terrain. The K2’s wheels move independently, allowing for various maneuvers and positioning. Its advanced fire control system can detect and fire at targets automatically. It’s even capable of threatening low-flying helicopters. This tank boasts an NBC protection system, a digital battlefield management system, modular composite armor, ERA, and an active protection system with both soft-kill and hard-kill options, with a hard-kill success rate of 80% or higher.

One special feature is its use of fire-and-forget smart ammunition called KSTAM, designed to attack the top armor of enemy tanks. This smart ammo has an effective range of 8 kilometers and can be fired from behind cover. The K2 even incorporates a neutron detector to help it avoid radiation-polluted areas.

South Korea’s military technology is truly impressive, and its focus on firepower and cutting-edge tanks is evident in its formidable arsenal.

6. Belgium

Belgium might be a relatively small country, but it packs a mighty punch regarding small arms. Their firearms, produced by FN Herstal, are renowned worldwide and find their way into the arsenals of over 100 countries.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these iconic FN firearms:

  • The FN FNC 5.56/.223 Caliber Assault Rifle:
The FN FNC 5.56/.223
The FN FNC 5.56/.223

This rifle is currently in service as the standard in Belgium, although it’s slated to be replaced by the SCAR-L. Interestingly, it’s also known as the AK-5 in Sweden and the Pindad SS1 and Pindad SS2 in Indonesia.

  • The FN SCAR-L (5.56) Assault Rifle & SCAR-H (7.62×51) Battle Rifle:
The FN SCAR-L (5.56) Assault Rifle
The FN SCAR-L (5.56) Assault Rifle

These rifles are not just popular in real life; you’ve probably seen them in video games and TV. The SCAR family is set to replace Belgium’s FN FNC as the standard service rifle. Remarkably, these rifles are used by all branches of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and numerous other elite forces across the globe, including Germany’s GSG-9 counter-terrorist unit, Finland’s Special Jaegers, and Poland’s BOR.

  • The FN P90 5.7×28 caliber Personal Defense Weapon (PDW):
The FN P90 5.7x28 caliber
The FN P90 5.7×28 caliber

The FN P90 is a fascinating bullpup-style PDW specifically designed for the 5.7×28 caliber cartridge, known for its penetrating power. It’s ideal for left-handed users with a 50-round magazine mounted on top and bottom ejection. You’ll find it in the hands of armed forces in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S.

  • The FN F2000 5.56/.223 caliber Bullpup Assault Rifle:
The FN F2000 5.56/.223 caliber bullpup Assault rifle
The FN F2000 5.56/.223 caliber bullpup Assault rifle

The FN F2000 is perhaps one of FN’s quirkiest and most futuristic-looking firearms. Some say it resembles a yacht when the barrel shroud is attached, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Its forward ejecting mechanism sets this rifle apart, a boon for left-handed shooters. It’s the standard service rifle in Slovenia and a favorite among special forces in Belgium, Poland, Pakistan, Peru, and East Timor.

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Belgium’s FN firearms have made a significant mark in the small arms industry. Their reputation for quality and innovation has led to these firearms being adopted by military units worldwide.

7. India

India’s got some impressive stuff going on in the world of military tech. Here’s what I’ve gathered:

  • Warship Expertise

India is rocking the warship game. They’re all about designing and building top-notch vessels and have quite the lineup. Think of the Kora Class Corvette, the Saryu Class OPV, and the Kamorta Class Light Frigate (sometimes called a Corvette by the Indian Navy). They’ve got warships for every need, from the sleek 1,500-ton corvette to the robust 7,500-ton Kolkata Class Destroyers.

Kora Class Corvette

And it doesn’t stop there. India is currently working on over 40 warships under construction or on order. That includes a massive 40,000-ton aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant, Vishakapatnam Class Destroyers (weighing 8,000 tons), Project 17A Frigates (packing over 6,000 tons), and more. Regarding major warships, India is the world’s third-largest naval shipbuilder.

  • Missile Mayhem

BrahMos

India’s missile game is strong, covering a range of these powerful projectiles. The Agni series is a standout. From short-range (Agni I) to medium-range (Agni II and Agni IV) to intercontinental ballistic missiles (Agni III and Agni V), India’s got ’em all. These are known for their precision and sophistication; there’s even talk of the Agni VI joining the party.

Ever heard of the BrahMos? It’s the world’s speedster when it comes to cruise missiles. India and Russia teamed up to create this beast, which can fly at Mach 3. You can launch it from land, sea, beneath the sea, and even from the air.

India isn’t just into regular missiles; they’ve got a thing for hybrids, too. Check out the Shaurya missile, a quasi-ballistic beauty.

And they’re not stopping. India is one of the select few nations with anti-ballistic missiles in their arsenal. The Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles before they enter our atmosphere.

Did I mention that India can launch ballistic missiles from its warships? The Dhanush missile makes it happen.

  • Helicopter Highs

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is making quite a splash in the helicopter world with its fancy designs.

The HAL Dhruv is doing the rounds with various branches of the Indian armed forces and even some other nations. More than 200 Dhruvs are soaring through the skies, and more are in the pipeline.

HAL Rudra

The HAL Rudra is a multi-role attack helicopter, essentially an armed version of the Dhruv. The Indian Army and Air Force are ordering these choppers, with about 50 already delivered out of the 94 in the order.

If you’re into helicopters with a touch of stealth, the HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has covered you. It’s got the highest service ceiling in its class and some slick semi-stealth features. India is planning to grab more than 170 of these, and other countries are taking notice, too.

Medium Lift Helicopter

HAL isn’t stopping there. They’re working on a Medium Lift Helicopter (MLH), a medium-sized transport chopper set to take its first flight in the early to mid-2020s.

India’s making serious strides in military tech, which they’re doing in style.

8. United States

Cyber Resilience:
Cyber War fare in Military Tech

In their visionary book “Digital Defenders,” Singer and Cole crafted a world where an alliance between China and Russia challenged the United States in the cyber realm. They managed to nullify every technological advantage the U.S. held, disrupting GPS and crippling advanced aircraft through compromised microchips. The outcome? The U.S. military had to revert to low-tech solutions from their “Ghost Fleet.”

This gripping scenario stirred conversations within the U.S. military and prompted a thorough examination of the possibility of such a cyber onslaught.

AI-Powered Tomorrow:
Ai-powered tomorrow

Fast forward to May 2020, Singer and Cole released “Synthetic: A Tale of the AI Revolution,” a book that’s been described as both “awe-inspiring” and “a compelling glimpse into the future.” This book ingeniously blends real-world research on AI and automation into a captivating narrative about the pursuit of a rogue AI mastermind.

In the future, law enforcement will adopt augmented reality glasses and self-driving vehicles powered by cutting-edge machine learning algorithms. The story delves into the consequences of automation, such as widespread unemployment and a population addicted to virtual reality.

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The Wingman of the Future:

Have you ever heard of Boeing’s “Sentinel Skies”? It’s a groundbreaking hybrid drone-jet designed to complement fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft. These autonomous drones, driven by advanced AI, provide invaluable support to manned fighters by gathering critical data about target areas and enemy capabilities before a mission.

What’s truly remarkable is that this technology is no longer confined to fiction; it’s already undergoing extensive real-world testing. The Royal Australian Air Force has taken the lead in experimenting with Boeing’s revolutionary prototype.

Cutting-Edge Military Simulations:
Field Usage of the IoMT

Military strategists are determining whether the United States can contend with adversaries boasting similar technological capabilities. In a pivotal 2019 exercise, the U.S. Army harnessed the power of the Maneuver Battle Lab’s Modeling and Simulations division to confront this crucial question.

The exercise expertly blended current U.S. weaponry and assets with emerging next-gen vehicles, including robotic combat vehicles and Future Vertical Lift helicopters. The takeaway from this exercise was a deeper understanding of the evolving battlefield dynamics and a heightened ability to outmaneuver adversaries.

The 3D Printing Revolution:
3D Printing Revolution

Imagine a world where 3D printing redefines the essence of logistical planning, not just for the U.S. military but for the entire world. As Singer and Cole aptly point out, this isn’t just about creating spare parts; it’s about reviving a bygone era where militaries crafted their weaponry. This technology presents many opportunities and challenges, not just for the U.S. but also for potential adversaries.

The United States Marine Corps recently made headlines by 3D-printing an entire bridge at Camp Pendleton, underscoring the potential to revolutionize logistical challenges with this innovative approach.

As we conclude this exploration of the U.S. military’s 21st-century transformation, it’s evident that the military landscape is evolving rapidly. These technologies aren’t just works of science fiction; they are becoming tangible realities, ushering in a new era of warfare.

Hypersonic Missiles:

Hypersonic Missiles

Hypersonic missiles are the new frontier in military technology. These projectiles travel at speeds beyond Mach 5, making them incredibly difficult to intercept. Their arrival has opened up entirely new possibilities regarding strike capabilities and deterrence.

The United States, alongside other major military powers, is actively investing in developing and deploying hypersonic weapons. These missiles can potentially change the face of warfare, offering rapid response times and precision strikes.

Space Dominance:

The 21st century has seen a reinvigorated interest in space exploration, extending to military applications. The U.S. military looks beyond our planet’s boundaries to ensure space dominance.

Satellites are no longer just for communication and navigation; they are crucial in reconnaissance, early warning systems, and secure communications. Protecting these assets and maintaining the upper hand in space is paramount.

Quantum Computing:

Quantum Computing in the US Military

Quantum computing is poised to revolutionize data processing and encryption. The U.S. military invests heavily in this cutting-edge technology to gain a significant advantage in secure communications and data analysis.

Quantum computers can break traditional encryption methods while also offering the potential for highly secure communication channels. As quantum computing matures, it will become a cornerstone of the military’s technological arsenal.

Energy Independence:

Energy is the lifeblood of any military operation. The U.S. military is actively pursuing energy independence and resilience. This involves developing alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuels.

By diversifying energy sources and improving energy efficiency, the military becomes more environmentally responsible and gains a strategic edge by reducing the vulnerability associated with fuel supply chains.

Biotechnology:

A soldier standing a robotic dog

Advancements in biotechnology are opening up new possibilities for the military. From enhancing soldier performance to developing advanced medical treatments, biotechnology is a game-changer.

Future soldiers may benefit from advanced medical interventions, personalized treatments, and augmented physical capabilities. Biotechnology is becoming vital to the military’s efforts to protect and support its personnel.

Incredible technological strides mark the U.S. military’s journey into the 21st century. These advancements aren’t confined to the realm of fiction; they’re tangible, evolving, and redefining the landscape of modern warfare. The military’s pursuit of cyber capabilities, AI integration, hypersonic missiles, space dominance, quantum computing, energy independence, and biotechnology is shaping the future of defense and national security.

In this ever-evolving landscape, the U.S. military is not only preparing to face 21st-century challenges but also leading the way in technological innovation. The future promises to be as transformative as the past century, and the U.S. military is at the forefront of this remarkable journey.

Conclusion

In conclusion, each country has areas of expertise in military technology, showcasing its strengths and innovations on the global stage. While the United States is renowned for its cyber warfare and artificial intelligence advancements, other countries like India excel in warship design and missile technology. Belgium has carved a niche in small arms manufacturing, and South Korea stands out in artillery and tank technology fields.

These specialized areas of excellence contribute to a nation’s defensive capabilities and influence the global military landscape. As nations continue to invest in research and development, the world will witness even more remarkable advancements in military technology, shaping the future of defense and warfare.

It’s worth noting that cooperation and collaboration between countries also significantly share expertise and ensure global security. As military technologies evolve, international cooperation becomes increasingly important in maintaining a delicate balance of power and fostering peace and stability worldwide.

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