Before getting into futuristic technology, we'll take a look at the world's most modern military technology in the present. 2050 is not so far off, so it's likely that some of the more advanced technologies will still be in use. Because modern militaries use such a great deal of technology, I'm only going to explain the most advanced and important or iconic ones.
5th Generation Fighter Aircraft:
The true codpiece of any modern military is its 5th generation fighter aircraft. The aspects of a 5G fighter include:
- High Stealthiness - the ability to avoid radar detection
- Super Cruise - the ability to fly at super sonic speeds for an extended period
- Super Maneuverability - using advanced systems like thrust vectoring to go beyond the realm of conventional aircraft ability
- Advanced Avionics - powerful onboard computers that can engage multiple targets
- Advanced Materials - created from the latest materials like composites and advanced alloys
There is only 5G fighter currently operated by any country, the USAF's F-22 Raptor, widely considered to be the most advanced fighter in the world:
The reason for this is not so much because the rest of the world lacks the technology to compete with the USA, but rather the cost of creating a 5G fighter is immense, and no other country considers it reasonable given that there there aren't any Soviets around to rile things up. Even in the USA, funding for new F-22s has been cut in favor of cheaper F-35s (see below) and many existing F-22 are never used because they are too expensive to fly. For later comparison, the F-22 costs about 150 million USD per unit.
Nonetheless, the tense atmosphere in Asia has prompted the budding Asiatic super powers to start developing their own 5G fighters, albeit probably less advanced and cheaper than the F-22.
China's entrant is the J-20:
(image from www.defenceaviation.com )
The J-20 (it's Chinese name 歼二十 means Annihilator 20) is still steeped in mystery, so it's hard to tell what it's capabilities are or will be. It's even unclear if the current aircraft sighted is a prototype or technology demonstrator. The will use Chinese built thrust vector capable engines, and its airframe is very stealth-shaped, but has a few unstealthy features like its forward canards. Most estimates suspect that it will be no match against American F-22s and F-35s, but to me, it seems the more likely rival will be Sukoi Flankers and the PAK-FA. Estimated cost is around 110 million USD per unit.
Russia and India will be operating the PAK-FA:
Sukoi in Russia will develop the main airframe and HAL in India will provide expertise and tweak the build for IAF specifications, for example by adding a second pilot seat. The PAK-FA includes a powerful new engine and will be the first 5G fighter with full 3-D thrust vectoring, which may put its maneuverability even ahead of the F-22. Estimated cost will be 100 million USD per unit.
Finally, the USA has a second 5G fighter up its sleeve, the F-35 Lightning II:
Mostly designed to be a cheaper version of the F-22, at 132 million USD per unit, it isn't much cheaper, and still more expensive than the proposed Asian 5G fighters. The F-35 lacks supercruise, but the F-35B will have jump jet capabilities similar to the British Harrier. There are also plans to mount the F-35 with a Next Generation Radar Jammer. The F-35 project is partially funded by the United Kingdom and other governments, and an F-35I Israeli model is also being developed, in contrast to the F-22 which is only
operated by the USA.