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Top 10 Futuristic Weapons Already Being Used

Updated on March 31, 2016
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10. Active Denial System

A non-lethal, directed energy weapon developed by the U.S. military, the Active Denial System was designed for area denial, perimeter security and crowd control. Informally, the weapon is called a ray gun or heat ray since it works by heating the surface of targets, such as the skin of targeted human subjects. The ADS was deployed in 2010 with the U.S. military in the Afghanistan War, but was withdrawn without seeing combat. On August 20th, 2010, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department announced its intent to use the technology on prisoners in the Pitchess Detention Center. The ADS is currently only a vehicle mounted weapon, though police and U.S. marines are both working on portable versions which may make this technology more readily available and widespread.

9. Autonomous Weapon System

Referring to remote controlled or artificially intelligent mobile robots or devices designed for military applications from transport, search and rescue, and defensive and offensive capabilities, many Autonomous systems are currently in use, but many more are under development. Autonomous robotics could save and preserve soldier's lives by removing serving soldiers from the battlefield. The goal is to allow machines to operate on their own for extended periods of time, possibly behind enemy lines. Some autonomous systems in development are the US Mechatronics sentry gun, a four wheeled robot outfitted for perimeter movement detection, the Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System that operates a sniper rifle attached to an unmanned helicopter, and the Mobile Autonomous Robot Software research program to develop more advanced military robots.

8. Electromagnetic Railgun

The electromagnetic rail-gun is a projectile launcher that uses a pair of parallel conductors, or rails, along which a sliding armature is accelerated by the electromagnetic effects of a current that flows down one rail into the armature and then back along the other rail. Rail-guns are being researched as a weapon that would use neither explosives nor propellant, but rather rely on electromagnetic forces to achieve a very high kinetic energy for a projectile. In 2005, an electromagnetic rail-gun INP, or innovative naval prototype, was initiated and achieved its phase one goal for proof of concept. In 2012, phase 2 is underway and attempting to demonstrate a repetitive rate of fire capability.

7. LaWs - Laser Weapon System

The AN/SEQ-3 laser weapon system or XN-1 LaWS is a directed energy weapon developed by the United States Navy. The weapon was installed on the USS Ponce for field testing in 2014, and in December of the same year, the United States Navy reported the weapon system worked perfectly. LaWS uses an infrared beam from a solid state laser array which can be tuned to high output to destroy the target or low output to warn or cripple the sensors of a target. Among the advantages of this device versus projectile weapons are the low cost per shot, no repeated manufacture cost, and it does not take up storage space. The Laser Weapon System was designed to intercept enemy projectiles and small crafts, destroying or rendering them inert.

6. Gauss Gun

Sometimes referred to as a coil-gun, the Gauss gun is a type of projectile accelerator consisting of one or more coils used as electromagnets in a configuration of a linear motor that accelerates a ferromagnetic or a conducting projectile to high velocity. The coil-gun generally consists of one or more coils arranged along a barrel, so the path of the accelerating projectile lies along the central axis of the coils. The coils are switched on and off in a precisely timed sequence, causing the projectile to be accelerated quickly along the barrel by magnetic forces. While not a new concept, most Gauss guns are too heavy for field applications and require a more powerful energy source than currently available to make them equal or exceed current firing speeds. If these two problems, along with a few others are solved, the Gauss rifle is capable of exceeding rail-gun speeds.

5. Metal Storm Sentry Gun

The Metal Storm Sentry Gun utilizes only one moving part, the bullet. Its design combines the barrel and magazine and has bullets lined behind each other, allowing it to fire at a faster rate. The bullets are fired using an electronic ignition system where at the push of a button, a series of electrical signals are sent down the barrel to the bullet. Removing the mechanical firing mechanism has made Metal Storm extremely reliable and the most powerful automatic gun in the world. Metal storm can fire a devastating hail of bullets in two modes, it can unleash a stream of bullets, effectively making a supersonic spear that can pierce armor, and an unstoppable wall of bullets fired out of multiple barrels. Using 9 mm rounds, Metal Storm can fire 16,000 rounds a second through multiple barrels, which is capable of destroying missiles before they reach their targets. Explosive rounds can also be utilized, and it requires nobody to man the gun effectively becoming a silent assassin.

4. Corner Shot

Corner shot is a weapon accessory invented by Lieutenant Colonel Amos Golan of the Israeli Defense Forces in cooperation with American investors. It was designed in the early 2000s for SWAT teams and special forces in hostile situations that usually involved terrorists and hostages. Its purpose is similar to a periscope rifle as it allows its operator to both see and attack an armed target without exposing the operator to a counterattack. The pistol is mounted in the front end of the weapon, which bends horizontally at a sixty degree hinge, and a digital camera and flashlight are attached to the barrel in a bayonet position. On the butt side of the hinge is the trigger, camera screen, and controls for the camera and light. The Corner shot is claimed to be accurate and effective with 9 mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP pistols at 328 feet or 100 meters and 656 feet or 200 meters with a 5.7 x 28 mm pistol.

3. DREAD Silent Weapon System

From Trinamic Technologies, the DREAD silent weapon system utilizes a new concept for propulsion using electrical energy. The DREAD offers an extraordinary rate of fire of up to 120 rounds per minute in controlled bursts with no recoil. This combination provides an extremely high hit probability and the ability to simultaneously engage multiple targets. The DREAD has no blast, flash, or heat signature, allowing it to remain in a sustained fire mode without being detected. The lack of recoil allows the DREAD to be mounted on virtually anything and be deployed in any combat situation. Its simple mechanical construction and self cleaning capabilities totally eliminate the multiple failure modes of other weapons.

2. Aurora Excalibur

Designed by Aurora Flight Sciences, the Excalibur is expected to fill a gap between current weaponized UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, and manned tactical air support platforms. The Excalibur's smaller scale model was 13 feet or 4 meters in wingspan and successfully tested on June 24th, 2009. A full scale version will be capable of carrying four AGM-114 Hell-fire missiles and has a travel speed of 460 miles or 749 kilometers per hour. When the aircraft is on the ground, weapons and payloads are placed over the wings to protect them from damage from dust or debris, but after takeoff it rolls upside down to a normal flight pattern with the payload and weapons in normal position under the wings. It is powered by a turbine engine, placed in an oblique position to generate thrust for forward flight, rotating vertically and for taking off and landing. With a successful test flight, we will most likely see this device in action for swift decisive strikes.


The Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition, or MAHEM, is a weapon being developed by DARPA that would utilize molten metal to penetrate enemy armored vehicles and reinforced structures. The molten metal would be propelled by electromagnetic fields from explosions. The MAHEM program offers the potential for higher efficiency, greater control, and the ability to generate and accurately time multiple jets and fragments from a single cartridge. If MAHEM works it would be a significant improvement on current explosively formed penetrators. This kind of weapon can be highly effective, but there are some drawbacks according to the U.S. military planners. Drawbacks include them being one time use weapons and cannot efficiently form multiple SFPs, or Self Foraging Penetrators from a single charge. Not much more is known about this weapon as DARPA is closely guarding their secrets.

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