Weapons of War
By Joshua M.Gendron
From e-bombs (electromagnetic pulse bombs) to smart bombs to revamped, revised cruise missiles, the United States Military has an arsenal of high tech weapons that have marked a turn in the way wars are fought. Some of the weapons currently in use, during this 2003 war on Iraq have greatly improved since the 1991 Dessert Storm War against the same adversary. Now we have technology that has become known as surgical precision. It seems strange to hear a general say we are at war but plan to preserve life and that we will have minimal casualties. Today’s technology has forever changed the face of war. I plan to discuss just a few of these technological advances in the weapons being used in the current conflict with Iraq.
The B-52H Stratofortress is one of the United States Air Force’s most consistent bombers. It is an old airplane, but it is the most capable long-range strike platforms that we are using in the current War Theater. It is capable because of the highly trained crew inside its cockpit. Airmen train very hard in order to fly the B-52H. The plane has five crewmembers, the Pilot, Co-Pilot, Electronic Warfare Officer, Radar Navigator and Navigator. The forty-year-old, $50 million airplane can carry as many as twelve different types of weapons, such as GPS – (global position system) or laser-guided bombs and missiles. Some of these require a release window of 20 to 30 seconds and other munitions are even more accurate requiring a smaller release window. The crew actually lives in this plane until the mission is complete. It has two floors, the Navigator is downstairs with all of his/her needed equipment, and the rest of the crew is upstairs. I found it rather amusing to learn that the B-52H has an oven, bed and a toilet in the cockpit (kind of makes it the deadly RV of the sky). The B-52H is the workhorse of the modern United States Air Force. During this 2003 campaign it is flying from Britain and launched air launched cruise missiles – (ACLMs) on Baghdad.
The Tomahawk Cruise Missile, RGM/UGM 109, is usually launched from surface ships and submarines. The Tomahawk flies under the radar at very high speeds using GPS. It carries a 1,000-pound conventional warhead and it is extremely accurate. A turbojet engine powers the Tomahawk. It uses stored digital pictures of its target area for a more precise strike. Armed with photos, maps and GPS positions the missile can search for, find and recognize the target it is programmed to hit.
JSOW – Joint Standoff Weapon, JDAM – Joint Direct Attack Munitions and JAGM-158 [JASSM] – Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (nickname JAZZ-EM) are all GPS guided devastating weapons. The JSOW carries a 1,000-pound warhead. It is an air to surface glide missile with various capabilities including the single 1,000-pound warhead, armor piercing bomblets (little bombs inside a large bomb) or a soft bomb containing filaments that short circuit power lines. The JDAM is the weapon of choice during bad weather conditions. It is outfitted with a guidance kit of moveable tail fins controlled by navigation systems and is aided by GPS. This kit turns the old free-falling “dumb bomb” into a “smart bomb” capable of a surgical strike. To put it in very simple terms it allows a “dumb bomb” to steer. The JAGM-158 is equipped with folding fins and a 1,000-pound explosive warhead capable of destroying underground targets. It is GPS guided and it is the bunker buster bomb.
The JEGBU-27 stands for Joint Enhanced Guided Bomb Unit 27. This is a relatively new bomb, which is designed specifically for use on the F117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter-Bomber. It can find its target by either laser or GPS guidance systems. This makes it good for any weather condition. It carries a 2,000-pound explosive or conventional warhead. This bomb equipped with the explosive warhead was the first bomb dropped on Iraq in the current campaign. On the first night of the war, Military Intelligence reported where they believed Saddam Hussein and at least one of his sons were located. Four of these bombs were dropped on that bunker.
The F117A – Known as the Nighthawk Stealth Fighter-Bomber is twenty-five years old and is still one of the worlds most advanced airplanes. It is expected to play a major role in this war on Iraq. This plane has been designed with all sharp angles and radar-absorbing skin. Its specialty is flying low into heavily protected areas in order to drop its 2,000-pound precision bombs on bunkers and command posts of the enemy, so it can clear the way for less stealthy fighters, helicopters like the Black Hawks and the Apache, and of course our troops.
Assortments of other fighter-bombers fill the skies over Iraq. Which include F14’s and F18’s flying from carriers located in the Mediterranean sea, and land based F15s and F16s flying out of Kuwait, not to mention all the equipment of the land such as tanks, large guns, missile launchers and more by sea. So far in day six of the war the United States Coalition has made great advancements toward the enemy. They have fired over 600 cruise missiles and 4,300 bombs were dropped. In conclusion I have learned that these weapons are all very efficient at killing. They are more efficient than ever before in history. These weapons of war have become so smart that they actually help to save the lives of civilians during war and surgically select the lives to take.
Trib Net http://www.tribnet.com
Time Magazine March 24, 2003 issue vol. 161 no. 12
Time Magazine March 31, 2003 issue vol. 161 no. 13
Time for kids on line www.timeforkids.com/tfk/iraq
NBC North Dakota News on line www.kfyrtv.com/shownews.asp?whatstory=1695