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

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.