The threat of nuclear confrontation with third world countries such as North Korea and Iran has many people thinking about a possible Armageddon. As Korea develops longer range missiles, the threat to California increases, and the rest of the world is at risk as well. Every developed country is concerned with its own security. In an effort to protect themselves, each one has teams of people working to develop new and more advanced weapons. Even during peacetime, nations are concerned with staying even or ahead of other countries who may threaten that peace. However, when countries are in a state of conflict or war, that concern becomes more intense since staying ahead of the enemy may mean the difference in victory or defeat. More money is spent, more teams are dedicated to the development of the next best weapon. History has proven that necessity really is the mother of invention. The result is that the development of new weaponry is accelerated during wartime. Therefore war is equal to advances in weaponry.
During the Civil War, the Confederate and the Union armies were similarly armed in the beginning, since both had been using the same weapons before the South split from the North. When the southern states seceded from the Union and war broke out, both sides worked hard to find anything that would give their side an advantage. Necessity once again produced advances in weapons and technology that is vital to victory in the war. The Civil War produced the development of machine guns such as the Gatling Gun and early versions of the grenade. Advances in existing technology included mass production of war materials, the rifling of gun barrels and the use of the Minié ball. Repeating firearms were developed, a huge advancement over single shot guns, as well as metallic cartridges and ironclad warships, such as the Monitor and the Merrimack. Other non-military advances were made in medicine, communications (such as the telegraph), and transportation (especially the railroads).
Perhaps the most obvious example from the Civil War of the effect war has on the development of weapons, is the Gatling Gun. The Gatling Gun was patented 1862. According to an article in The National Interest, it was created by Gatling under the impression that it would make a single man (the operator) so lethal that it would make war obsolete. The Gatling Gun was a .58 caliber, 6 barrel gun that could fire 600 rounds per minute, the equivalent of 150 trained infantrymen. It’s use was limited, but effective, much like nuclear weapons since nuclear weapons are obviously effective, but their uses are limited by the cost and the difficulty of delivery for a nuclear missile.
Today, there is conflict all over the world. ISIS and the Taliban have escalated terrorism to the status of war, but the most obvious problem is North Korea. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States, and has fired many test missiles to prove his intent and ability to carry out his threats. The tests have included short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles, most of which have fallen into the Sea of Japan, and a test of what the North Koreans said was a hydrogen bomb. The tests have displayed the ability to reach the United States, if the missiles were fired on a proper trajectory.
The tests have created a constant battle of threats between the North Korean government and the United States and its allies. Every time the Koreans launch a missile, the United States and the United Nations impose more sanctions. The idea is to cut Korea off from all international trade until it ends it stops testing nuclear capable weapons and ends its research in nuclear technology. Each time more sanctions are imposed, the Koreans retaliate with another test. There is no winner.
The Korean threat has intensified a need for reliable defense against a missile attack against the United States and its allies. Although the United States has had a missile defense plan for many years, there is a need to keep that defense current. The United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is responsible for that research. On August 30, 2017, the United States conducted a successful defense test that intercepted a mid-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii. MDA Director, Lt. General Sam Greaves said, “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”
The idea that war is equal to advances in weaponry, however, is proven by a statement from Raytheon SM-6 senior program director, Mike Campisi. Raytheon is the defense contractor responsible for the Standard Missile-6 that was used in the August 30th defense test. Campisi said, “We did all this – the analysis, coding and testing – in seven months – a process that normally takes two years.”
If Raytheon can accomplish this because necessity demanded it, then other contractors can make similar progress on whatever defense projects that they may be working on. If the need becomes more demanding, we may see new technology very soon.