Those troops you saw in science fiction movies as a child are now real. A few years ago, many countries recognized a need to upgrade the individual infantryman and thus started their own "future soldier" programs. Most of them completed more or less the main priority objectives, applying them to some of their elite troops and special forces, bringing together commercial, off-the-shelf technology and state of the art military gear and equipment.
More lethal assault rifles, upgraded weapon sights, modular gear, more effective head, body, and limb protection, cutting-edge networked communication, computer, and navigation gadgets—nowadays these subsystems transform a common soldier into a high-tech warrior.
Now, with helmets fitted with real-time positioning and information systems, thermal weapons sights, and computers embedded into their uniforms, soldiers are able to engage in combat assisted by satellite imagery of the battlefield and ballistic accuracy calculations. The future of ground warfare will surely bring integrated smart weapons, lightweight full body armors made of more advanced materials, exoskeletons, and even cybernetic implants to the battlefields; but, until then, the following photos from around the world show you the present. And it's scary enough.
These are the most advanced troopers of our age, the people their enemies fear the most.
Photo: Ric Feld/AP//The News Tribune, Peter Haley/AP
“FÉLIN” (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés, Integrated Infantryman Equipment and Communications), the French Future Soldier program
Photo: SIRPA Terre/CCH J-B Tabone
The “Future Integrated Soldier Technology” (FIST) and the “Army 2020,” the transformation of the British Army for the 2020s and beyond
Photo: Cpl Mark Webster/Army/Crown
Germany's IdZ—“Infanterist der Zukunft–Erweitertes System," or “Future Soldier–Expanded System”—is also known as the “Gladius”
The “ISW Tytan” (Indywidualny System Walki Tytan, or "Individual Warfare System Titan") is the Polish Future Soldier military project
Photo: Bumar PCO
Photo: Bumar PCO
Photo: Polish Defence Holding
Photo: ST Electronics
Photo: Ministerio de Defensa de España
Top photo: SIRPA Terre/ADC Gilles Gesquiere