13 October 2014

New US Military Equipment Doing More Than Boosting Technology


All service members and veterans can agree the United States military isn’t the best at keeping up with technology and implementing the latest and greatest. Lately, more focus has been put on new equipment that would help service members execute tasks and increase safety—with two examples being night vision goggles and combat vehicles.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on the next generation of night vision goggles. The goggles would be lighter, use more of the infrared spectrum and allow a soldier to share his view with his group digitally—all while holding a charge for 24 hours. Not only would the new goggles benefit the individual—switching in and out of night vision mode instantly, but they would make it easier for the group to work together—streaming video so all members can see what everyone else sees.

Incorporating high-tech advancements is certainly useful, but even the basic changes will really make a service member’s life easier. Just lightening the load of the goggles will save their necks. Right now, night vision goggles aren’t that heavy but the weight is unevenly distributed, and that causes problems such as pinched nerves, especially when the wearer is holding the same position for a long time. A survey of 88 aviators published in 2012 by the Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory said 58 percent of them complained of some type of neck pain, with night vision use identified as a key factor.

Another new technology coming out is a combat vehicle. A new breed of lightweight military vehicles is in the final production stages, with the first Dagor vehicle to be delivered to a U.S. special operations group in November. Polaris Industries Inc. developed Dagor in less than two years from scratch. At 4,500 pounds, the vehicle can be flown into combat by plane or helicopter, and it can transport nine service members.

Making a combat vehicle much lighter will help the military maneuver and relocate fairly easily. When compared to the Humvee, the Dagor’s design is better by leaps and bounds. Since the bottom of the vehicle has more angles and will not absorb the full force of explosions like Humvees do, the Dagor is much safer. As Humvees are phased out, these new lightweight vehicles can replace them.

Enhancing new capabilities of any military equipment is important, but basic adjustments such as decreasing headgear’s weight or designing the bottom of a vehicle to deflect force away make all the difference. Sometimes the best upgrades don’t necessarily come from new technology, but something being designed in a different way that could have been done years ago. The service members using the product need to be at the forefront of developers’ minds with technology upgrades.

What are other examples of equipment that could use basic upgrades? How can the military make upgrades faster?

Comment below or join the discussion here and connect within the military community.

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