The military will always be at the cutting-edge of technological innovation, and rugged liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are an essential part of military technology. Standard, civilian-grade LCDs simply cannot survive the rugged conditions and persistent abuse that soldiers put them through.
Modern soldiers are connected to their command-and-control structures as never before. In fact, communications have become the linchpin of military operations generally. The era of sending soldiers into the field with a basic intelligence packet and some general orders, leaving them to interpret orders and adapt while in the field, are definitively over. With the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and satellite communications, soldiers are rarely out of contact with their superiors and base-of-operations. These developments are not entirely new: as far back as World War II, units as small as platoons had radios and radio operators, which frequently broke down, ran on unreliable batteries and required semi-regular maintenance. What has change fundamentally is the scale of information available to soldiers in the field. Radio and voice communication is the least plentiful source of battlefield data for the modern soldiers. Rugged LCDs are essential to clearly and rapidly present information about the battlefield to the grunts on the ground. It is a whole lot easier to look at a screen and see the locations of enemy and friendly forces than to listen to a audio description from base.
With the increase in data available to the common soldier, more powerful, lightweight, and durable computer systems are needed. A liquid-crystal display can only show as much information as the computer behind it can process. The military is leading the development of extremely rugged, powerful and portable computer systems.
Aluminum chassis protect military computers from shocks such as falls, crashes and other violence. But they aren’t bullet-proof, nor are they intended to be. An aluminum chassis also conveys an advantage to operations involving signals intelligence, traffic interception and the like. An aluminum casing attenuates (the scientific term for blocking) radio waves, offering a measure of protection from passive electronic analysis.
The internal workings of military hardware are prized state secrets the world over. Aluminum chassis prevent enemy eavesdroppers from “listening in” on the electronic signals emitted by computer systems while in operation. Everything from missile-guidance systems to radar installations release an incredible amount of information each second—aluminum or other dielectric casings prevent those signals from getting into enemy hands.
The Pentagon is reworking much of its basic hardware, from guns to CPUs, customizing them to survive a wide variety of hostile, unforgiving environments. Even the iconic Beretta M9, the military’s standard-issue sidearm for the last 30 years, is getting scrapped in favor of a pistol that can better handle sand, dust, and extremes of heat and cold. The military’s in-the-field computer systems are getting the same upgrade. The environment—whether it’s an Arctic tundra or a Middle Eastern desert—can be as brutal an adversary as a determined human enemy. That’s why the next-generation of military computers are hermetically sealed, equipped with long-lasting filters and powerful fans: to keep the environment from destroying their internal components.