Joint direct attack munition (JDAM)
Known as the satellite-guided smart bombs, this weapon was upgraded after weather conditions in Operation Desert Storm prevented it from efficiently hitting targets.
The JDAM is accurate in any weather condition and from high altitudes. After release from an attacking airplane, a JDAM navigates toward its assigned target, which is programmed into the aircraft by military personnel before its departure.
Onboard aircraft sensors initialize the navigation system by providing position and velocity vectors along with guidance through Global Positioning Systems and Inertial Navigation Systems.
Tomahawk cruise missile
This missile can give off a 1,000 pound blast when launched from surface ships or submarines. The missile’s ability to fly at extremely low altitudes and high subsonic speeds allows it to be used for efficient land attacks.
The first successful use of the Tomahawk came in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. The missile, like JDAMs, uses Inertial Navigation Systems and Global Positioning Systems. Radar detection on the 2,900-pound Tomahawk is difficult because of its low flight. The missile is capable of long range flight and extreme accuracy, which makes it a weapon of choice for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Massive ordnance air blast bomb (MOAB)
Military personnel refer to it as the “mother of all bombs” because of its satellite-guided success surpass that of the daisy cutter. At 21,000 pounds, it is the largest non-nuclear conventional weapon used by the military. Unlike the daisy cutter, the MOAB can be released without a parachute. Its ability to be dropped from C-130 cargo planes at high altitudes makes it safer for pilots.
Research and testing on the MOAB began in 2002. The Air Force Research Laboratory completed testing March 11 when it launched an explosive at Eglin Air Force Base, releasing 10,000-foot burst of smoke into the air.
During Operation Allied Force in 1999, the B-2 bomber proved successful by flying non-stop from Missouri to Kosovo and destroying more than a quarter of its targets in Serbia. The bomber is capable of delivering massive firepower and is able to fire conventional and nuclear munitions.
While it has the ability to travel at high subsonic speed, it is the visual and radar signatures that make this aircraft difficult for defense systems to track.
Cost: $1.16 billion
It’s ability to carry up to 42,000-pound loads makes this one of the primary transports for delivering troops and equipment into war zones. One of several C-130 cargo planes, the Hercules has the ability to carry military personnel along with helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles.
The C-130 Hercules can cruise at 366 mph and an altitude of 22,000 feet and is known for launching MOABs. It also has the capability to air-drop oversized loads or land on rough dirt strips to deliver cargo.
Cost: $30 million