Well then to answer the main question Mad put up.
/begin personal theorycrafting
Most of the newest efforts in military technology are in 3 areas:
- Active Defenses
- The War On Recoil (Infantry weapons containing mechanisms or means of reducing felt recoil and/or muzzle climb are on the rise)
- Doing more with less. Aka make your guys more effective for the same weight.
In the first category we are seeing the highly imminent deployment of Active Protection Systems for the first time in combat. Things like Raytheon's Quick Kill, the Russian Arena, the Israeli Iron Fist and Trophy, and a couple areas are all designed to break the flattening arms race between weapons and armor.
How they do that is instead of making armor so thick or reactive that it effectively immobilizes the vehicle, you make system that allows less armor but better defenses. Active protection systems since they can intercept anti-armor weapons like RPG-7/RPG-29 and the Javelin will allow tanks and APCs
to have just enough armor to shrug off infantry weapons and nearby strikes instead of needing to survive a direct hit. (Needless to say when it comes to tanks the nations seeking APS are keeping the armor levels already established on modern tanks) This is going doubly so for APC/IFV types since blowing those vehicles wide open can (and probably will) cause significantly greater casualties.
Here's a practical example of this focus. If you disabled an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with say a Javelin, the maximum casualties you can inflict are 4. Fire the same weapon at a fully loaded Stryker and you can inflict 12. Thus targeting the APCs
and IF Vs
gives you more enemy casualties for the same ammo expended.
If you can defend against this with something like Iron Fist, you only need enough armor to shrug off infantry calibers for your IF Vs
Additionally, such defensive systems are being looked into across the board. Meaning a variant is being thought of for fighter aircraft, ships, helicopters and more.
In the second category you are seeing the development of infantry weapons that can handle recoil either from faster fire rates or more powerful cartridges. The TDI Vector like seen in Modern Warfare 2
fires the .45 ACP pistol cartridge with the same muzzle climb and recoil as a much lighter cartridge. End result? Greater accuracy for no loss in stopping power. The AK-107/AK-108 series uses a Balanced system to negate muzzle climb. Other weapons are utilizing shock absorbers or other systems (the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle is one of these).
The end result is to increase the effectiveness of the infantryman (especially in high intensity combat like in urban settings) and reducing ammunition consumption.
The third category is tough to explain. Basically, it means things like looking into better yet lighter body armor and designs for equipment that can carry a standard soldier's gear for less strain on the soldier.
Some experiments in robotic aids are looking into this problem. (Though it isn't yet Powered Armor