Korea Remakes the Soldier of the Future

It appears that the military brain trust over in Korea might have seen Iron Man or Star Wars: Clone Wars too many times. It's difficult to say exactly where the inspiration came from for their concept for a new battle-dress uniform (BDU), but it definitely looks like something right out of the realm of science fiction. The Korea Times reported on the concept design for a new BDU and related gear that Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) will allegedly start developing next year.  

"The agency has completed studies on the concept of the future combatant uniform and equipment... From next year, we plan to begin developing related technology and equipment after getting approval from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.'' -- Unnamed official

Credit: The Korea Times
The development of the new BDU and related accessories will be undertaken during two separate phases. The first phase will aim to develop an updated XK11 rifle that features a laser-based rangefinder, thermal imager for night operation, airburst grenade launcher, and the ability to communicate with a heads-up display (HUD). The HUD will reside inside the visor of a bulletproof helmet, and will be able to display information such as the exact range to the intended target. The helmet will include video transmission, long-range communications, and GPS capabilities. Tying all of this together will be a wearable, "portable data-processing equipment," which includes a "friendly-or-foe identification system." Rounding out the first-phase development cycle will be an improved bulletproof vest.

The second phase of equipment development will add automatic temperature adjustment to the BDU as well as protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons. The helmet will also be improved with NBC protection.

While Korea develops the BDU and equipment for the soldier of the future, much of this technology already exists today. The NBC protection and temperature control are not too different from what today's astronauts wear in space. Of course, today's pressurized spacesuits are too heavy and bulky to have any practical application on the battlefield, but advances in materials and fabrics development might offer an effective solution. The XK11 rifle concept also bears striking similarity to the U.S.'s own developmental, Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW). HUDs are nothing new (not even in helmets) and neither is the concept of carrying around a "Personal Command/Control System"--many of us are already performing a lower-tech version of this with our iPhones and Bluetooth headsets. See you on the battlefield!
Tags:  Korea, Future, make, EA, IE, K