Choose your Weapon


What it is

How it works

Where it’s used

How much it costs

When the U.S. began using it

MQ-1 Predator

A 27-foot- long, unmanned aircraft. Typically armed with Hellfire missiles.

Operated remotely, from ground- control stations in California, Nevada, North Dakota, and Arizona

According to news reports, has been used in Pakistan and Yemen; also utilized in Iraq and Afghanistan

At least $40 million

Afghanistan, 2002

Hellfire missile

A laser-guided, 100 pound munition with enough firepower to take out a tank

Dubbed “fire and forget,” is typically shot from Predators

Reportedly used in Panama, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan

An estimated $25,000

Panama, 1989

Bugsplat, formally “FAST-CD” (Fast Assessment Strike Tool—Collateral Damage)

Software program that predicts the collateral damage from a bomb. Used with Hellfire missiles.

Considers terrain, size of weapon, altitude, angle, and speed from which a bomb will be dropped

Used widely

Developed by U.S. military

First approved for use in 2002

AC-130 gunship

Heavily armed, 97-foot 9-inch aircraft with 4 turbo-prop engines. Carries high-caliber cannons fitted with guiding systems.

Can deliver surgical strikes. Also can orbit an area and saturate it with firepower.

Many wars, beginning with Vietnam. Used in the war on terror, reportedly for targeted killings in Somalia in 2007.

$190 million

Vietnam, 1967

JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition)

Guidance kit that converts unguided, 500-to-2,000 pound bombs into precision-guided “smart” munitions

Dropped from fighter jets or bombers; GPS and Inertial Navigation Systems enable the bomb to hit fixed or “relocatable” targets.

Yugoslavia; In war on terror, in
Iraq and Afghanistan

Approximately $20,000

Yugoslavia, 1999


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