Defense Technology Countdown

By National Defense Staff
In the intricate and routinely zany world of military weaponry, the past several decades have been nothing short of a technological shock-and-awe.

The flipside of so much scientific marvel, alas, is that technology can be mistaken for a magic potion. As famed historian Daniel J. Boorstin cautioned decades ago, torrents of technology can create a “fog of information” that eventually drives out knowledge.

The triumphs of technology — as well as the dangers of being overconfident in its powers to solve problems — are abundantly evident in today’s military. The litanies of successes and failures are well known to National Defense readers, but there are certain technological “hits” and “misses” that, in our opinion, deserve special attention and are being highlighted in this special feature.

The “hits” list contains an assortment of high-tech devices that have won praise from U.S. troops at war in Iraq and Afghanistan — the Rover video terminal, mini-drones, bomb-disposal robots, V-hull armored vehicles and iPod translators. Successes also include biometrics — an identification technology that is earning rave reviews at the Defense Department — and the Army’s hugely popular “America’s Army” videogame, which millions of teenagers — read: potential recruits — play every day.

The “misses” list similarly features items that earned bad reviews from troops in the field or never made it there in the first place— mobile broadband, portable energy sources, gun-shooting robots and drone-control stations. Other technological disappointments are the space-based radar and directed-energy weapons. Homeland security letdowns include liquid explosive detectors and scanners that can identify “dirty bombs” entering U.S. ports.

To read the list of 'hits and misses' click here.

Topics: Advanced Weapons, Robotics, Test and Evaluation

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