Written by Dabney B. on Friday, October 19th, 2012
The US military spends millions of dollars researching new weapons, but it’s still centuries behind everyday animals. Not only can animals outshine the military with some of their natural weapons, but they also serve as inspiration for the battlefield gadgets of the future. Today, we’re going to take a break from the typical military topics and look at weapons that came straight from the animal kingdom.
This is probably the most well-known example of creatures inspiring military technology. Bats and dolphins both use sound to locate their prey. They emit sound waves, which bounce off of creatures and return to the animal. Dolphins and bats are both able to estimate the location and distance of creatures based on how long it takes for the sound to return.
Submarines operate under the exact same principle: they send out sound waves that bounce off of enemy vessels. The military employs a similar strategy with radar, but for that they use radar waves rather than sound waves.
It almost seems silly to add this one, but it’s true. The wing is what directly inspired mankind to experiment with heavier-than-air flight. Believe it or not, bird wings are also shaped in an airfoil, much like the wings of an F-35 or a B-52. It wasn’t until the Wright Brothers’ historic flight in the early 1900s that mankind finally harnessed the same techniques that birds use every day.
Visual camo is one of the simplest and most effect ways to hide from your foes. Chameleons, leaf bugs, and moths rely on their irregular coloration to vanish into their surroundings. This technique is so effective that it’s pretty much standard on military uniforms. Soldiers wear brown-and-green fatigues, and night-flying stealth bombers have all-black paint job to blend in with the night sky.
Some biological weapons are developed in a laboratory, and others can be found in the natural world. The fear-inducing bio-weapon is actually derived from bacteria. Some of the world’s most dangerous toxins, poisonous gases, toxins, and biological weapons have come straight from mother nature.
Scientists believe that bugs are able to perceive lights in ways that are completely unimaginable to humans. The military hopes to develop cameras that will allow drones to detect all types of energy, even those that would normally be imperceptible to the naked eye. Not only will it help drones navigate, but it could also make drones more effective at detecting enemy weapons.
Sharks are built for one thing: eating. Their impressive jaws are lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. As if that wasn’t dangerous enough, their skin is also covered in tiny, teeth-like protrusions that gives their body the consistency of sandpaper. All they have to do is brush up against a fish and they will deliver a dangerous wound that may very well be lethal. Anyone who’s gone fishing for this deadly game knows not to get too close to sharks’ flesh-tearing skin.
Sharkskin-like materials have been applied as a way to fight bacteria. Science fiction writers and military engineers have also long-since imagined a type of military armor that can give troops the edge on the battlefield. You think fighting with a trained US soldier is hard? Imagine trying to scrap with one whose very body armor will shred your skin.
If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.