Table of contents:
- 1. Spy balloon
- 2.XM29 OICW
- 3. Helicopter car
- 4. Ground war robots
- 5. Boeing YAL-1
- 6. "Diamond pebble"
- 7. "TailSitters"
- 8. "Gyrojet"
- 9. RAH-66 Comanche
- 10.VZ-1 Pawnee
- 11. Future Combat Systems (FCS)
- 12. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV)
Perhaps there is no such force capable of stopping progress, including in the military sphere. Dozens of projects are developed annually, many of which can be safely called promising and ambitious. However, even the most promising technologies, models of weapons and military equipment may remain on paper and not be implemented for a variety of reasons. Here are 12 military developments that could have a great future, but were not completed.
1. Spy balloon
It would seem that the era of balloons faded into history along with airships in the thirties of the last century. However, not so long ago, an attempt was made to "resurrect" these flying giants, and adapting them for the needs of the military. This is how the program for the creation of reconnaissance spy balloons in the United States appeared, because their maintenance and operation are much cheaper compared to the same drones.
Within the framework of this program, in 2005, the development of three projects was started at once, which were supposed to satisfy the requests of the American army. They all boiled down to one thing: a large airship (up to hundreds of meters long) was supposed to be above the site of hostilities and collect information using high-precision equipment. Even a "polygon" was found for the first use -
it was to be Afghanistan. However, a number of design flaws in the prototypes led to the closure of the project in 2013.
In the nineties of the last century, two companies - the American Alliant Techsystems and the German Heckler & Koch - began to develop a joint program to create a fundamentally new type of weapon, built according to a modular scheme: the result should have been a half rifle with standard 5.56 mm bullets, half a 20 caliber grenade launcher mm with ammunition for remote (air) detonation fragmentation ammunition.
Around 1999, an unusual concept took on material form in the form of the XM29 OICW. Despite the promising technical characteristics, the appearance of the weapon turned out to be appropriate - it was repeatedly noted that it looks like a futuristic "cannon" from video games. However, in reality, the concept did not meet the expectations of the customers, being ineffective: the unsatisfactory destructive effect of the grenade, as well as the "unacceptable mass" of the weapon itself, put an end to its further development, and the project was closed in 2004.
3. Helicopter car
Both before and during World War II, engineers tried to create such weapons or military equipment, whose abilities and characteristics seem impressive even now. One of these frankly strange projects can be safely called the development of a new aircraft in the form of a hybrid of a helicopter and a car.
The British Army's military engineers decided to design a similar machine. In the end, they ended up with a unit that was an off-road vehicle equipped with a tail and a rotor from a helicopter. Amazingly, this car really flew well. However, banal practicality put an end to the development of an unusual concept: it quickly became clear that the transportation of ground vehicles is a little easier by means of aircraft than by creating tens and hundreds of hybrids.
4. Ground war robots
When, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, unmanned aerial vehicles proved their effectiveness during military conflicts in the Middle East, they became one of the main types of weapons of the US Army. In turn, ground robots for the most part remained on the periphery.
They decided to turn the tide in 2007 during the fighting in Iraq. Ground combat robots were sent there, represented by modified TALON robots for firing. However, their story did not end before it began, and in real field conditions, they never went into the heat of war. And all because they frankly failed the tests, during which control was lost over them, and the robots simply went out of order.
5. Boeing YAL-1
The Boeing YAL-1 is a concept of an experimental combat aircraft, which was supposed to destroy enemy objects, including ballistic missiles, using a powerful chemical (onboard) laser. The first mentions of such a program date back to the end of the eighties, but the first real results were obtained in 2002, when the only remaining prototype aircraft was assembled with an unusual ability to destroy enemy weapons and equipment.
The main advantage of this system was the ability to eliminate launching ballistic and cruise missiles with a nuclear warhead even at the initial stage of the flight trajectory. However, even this promising technology turned out to be defenseless against the banal cuts in the US military budget. It is for this reason that the project was closed in 2001, and three years later, the only Boeing YAL-1 sample was disposed of.
6. "Diamond pebble"
The program "Diamond Pebbles" (in other translations - "Diamond Pebbles") was developed under the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative (abbreviated SDI, also "Star Wars"), which, in turn, was a global missile defense network of the United States during the Cold war. Its beginning was announced by President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983, and it consisted of both research activities in this direction and development design work.
According to surviving evidence, the Diamond Pebble program was proposed in 1986 and involved the creation of a network of 4,000 military kinetic interceptor satellites, which were to shoot down Soviet missiles using kinetic strike in a direct collision. It was this system that was considered the most promising among a number of other developments of the SDI program, but this did not provide it with a worthy future, which crashed into the historical context. The project was not implemented in the late 1980s, and after the collapse of the USSR, it was no longer necessary, and it was closed in 1994.
Perhaps the concept of a vertically taking off aircraft appeared almost from the beginning of the aviation era, but attempts to implement it were made much later. So, one of the first developments designed to satisfy this request was opened by the middle of the last century.
The project to create the so-called "Tailsitters" was started in 1950, and was one of the first versions of aircraft "sitting on the tail", that is, those that would take off vertically. It would seem that successfully rebuilt prototypes would ensure a successful test outcome, but in reality everything happened differently. It turned out that the takeoff and landing of this type of aircraft required great care and skill from the pilots. The threat to the life of the management and became the reason for the closure of the project, although the main components of the tailsitter concept were later used to create flying drones.
In the early 1960s, MB Associates launched a family of unique rocket pistols and rifles. In essence, these weapon models were not so bad: they had satisfactory efficiency, and were also silent.
However, their story was not successful, and, perhaps, their main achievement was the appearance in the film about the legendary agent 007 James Bond "You Only Live Twice." After all, the practice of using it showed that outside the screen, the weapon was not accurate enough, the shells of little use when used at close distances, moreover, often misfired.
9. RAH-66 Comanche
This project was one of the most expensive and famous of those that were never completed. The RAH-66 "Comanche" aircraft was supposed to be made a new generation reconnaissance helicopter, which was supposed to combine the use of stealth technology and innovative digital equipment.
A colossal amount of money was spent on the development of such a promising project - about $ 7 billion. However, even such financial injections did not save the plane of the future from closing in 2004 in connection with that. Moreover, it is interesting that the reason was the termination of funding, and the banal inexpediency of such a development: by the mid-2000s it became finally clear that it is easier to use unmanned aerial vehicles to collect information, rather than develop a separate unit.
In the middle of the last century, the development of another military project was started, which was also quite original in appearance. We are talking about the VZ-1 Pawnee, which is nothing more than a flying platform. The specialists of the Hiller Helicopters company undertook to realize such an ambitious idea.
Development began in 1950 and was a very one-man platform that took off with two helicopter propellers from below. This unit was controlled by tilting the pilot's body. However, even successfully passed tests did not save the project from closure: the platform was recognized as too fragile and slow for the conditions of real hostilities.
11. Future Combat Systems (FCS)
Sometimes a refusal in further development may receive not only a separate project, but even a large-scale military program. This is exactly what happened with Future Combat Systems - a system of concepts, the purpose of which was to create a fundamentally new model of the US Army. The program included projects for the development of 18 different system-forming components at once: new sensors, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, as well as two super-systems for control.
Among the developments under the FCS program was, for example, the new XM1202 tank. A small but maneuverable armored vehicle armed with a 120mm cannon was considered quite promising. However, when it became clear that both the tank and the rest of the concepts did not have advantages over other models of military equipment, the project was recognized as ineffective and closed.
12. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV)
Another ambitious idea, but now in the form of one piece of equipment. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle project was supposed to give the American army an innovative amphibious fighting vehicle that meets the needs of the US Marines. At first, the EFV was quite promising: it combined considerable combat power, good defense and decent speed.
However, during the testing phase, a number of shortcomings were identified, which actually put an end to the mass production of the EFV. So, for example, the car could not accelerate to maximum speed on the water in any way, its power plant turned out to be very capricious. In addition, the Marines were frankly pushed away by the price of the amphibian - about $ 25 million per unit. Even the EFV concept itself was criticized, because by that time anti-ship weapons were quite effective, and the protection of the vehicle was vulnerable to them.