U.S. policymakers are girding the American public for a long fight against ISIS, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying that the jihadists could take several years to defeat.
ISIS has one of the most extensive arsenals of any non-state armed group in modern history.
But even if not all of their weaponry is applicable to the fight against extremists in the Middle East, it’s worth remembering that the U.S. and its partners still have the overwhelming advantage in hardware.
And it’s not just an advantage over non-state groups like ISIS.
The U.S. is in possession of a range of weapons that the rest of the world simply doesn’t have.
Weapons like the MQ9 Reaper Drone, the Laser Avenger and the ADAPTIV cloaking give U.S. troops the a leg-up on any battlefield around the world — including in the ongoing battle against jihadist groups across the Middle East.
Manufactured by: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)
Release date: 2001
The Reaper has been around for over 10 years, but was used largely for intelligence and reconnaissance until recently.
Today, squadrons of F-16's are being transitioned into fully unmanned drone fleets.
The Reaper is the largest of the UAV's in the U.S. arsenal with a wingspan of 84 feet, a takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds, a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds, and a maximum flight time of 36 hours.
The drone can read a licence plate from over two miles away while flying at an altitude of 52,000 feet. Capable of carrying 500-pound bombs, air-to-ground, and air-to-air missiles, the UAV fleet is poised to perform the lion's share of American air support in coming years.
At the beginning of this decade, the U.S. already had more personnel training to operate its burgeoning drone fleet than for any other weapon system in its arsenal.
Manufactured by: Maxwell Atchisson
Release date: 2005
The AA12 can fire five 12-gauge shells per second. Because the recoil is engineered at just 10 per cent of that of a normal shotgun, it can be fired from the hip with only one hand.
The Atchisson also fires a high-explosive or fragmentation grenade called a FRAG-12 round up to a distance of 175 meters with equal efficiency.
Designed for long-term combat use, tests have shown the AA12 can fire up to 9,000 rounds without jamming or having to be cleaned.
All the user needs to do is hold the trigger down for four seconds to empty the 20 round drum at a target.
Manufactured by: BAE Systems
Release date: 2013
Developed and patented in Sweden, ADAPTIV functions over infra-red and other electronic frequencies. It can blend the coated vehicle into the background, making it seem to be invisible -- and it can also shape the returning signal to appear like something else entirely.
A tank, for example, can be made to look like a car. These pictures show both the combat vehicle disappearing and reshaping itself into the outline of an automobile.
Manufactured by: the Department of Defence (DOD)
Release date: 2007
The Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response (PHASR) rifle is a type of handheld laser array called a dazzler that's capable of blinding and disorienting anyone caught in its sights.
While blindness-inducing are restricted by the 1995 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (a ruling the U.S. didn't agree to until 2009) the PHASR causes only temporary blindness, thus escaping the ban.
Dazzlers were originally mounted devices on U.S. soldiers' rifles, and were intended as a non-lethal way to halt individuals who failed to stop at military checkpoints.
The PHASR uses a green laser array to calculate its targets' distance and ensure its a non-permanently blinding intensity.
Manufactured by: TASER
Release date: 2008
The Taser model will electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button.
Creating an 'area of denial,' the Taser can be stacked up and strung together to increase the weapon's scope, and easily mounted to any vehicle.
The Shockwave has an effective distance of 25 feet and can be seen in action on this company video.
Manufactured by: BAE Systems (BA.L)
Release date: 2008
The Black Knight is a combination remote-controlled tank and forward-scouting vehicle, designed for situations deemed too risky for manned vehicles.
To keep costs low, the Black Knight shares a weapons systems and engine parts with the manned Bradley Fighting vehicle. The tank boasts a 30mm cannon, machine gun, and 300-horsepower engine.
The vehicle is also fitted with autonomous navigation software and can design and follow its own routes without input from an outside source.
Manufactured by: Raytheon (RTN)
Release date: 2008
Dubbed America's Ray Gun by 60 Minutes, the Active Denial System is a combination radar array and microwave.
The ADS shoots a stream of electromagnetic waves, which are instantly absorbed by the top layer of skin.
The pain is so intense, and the reaction to run from the beams is so overpowering, that the military calls it the 'Goodbye Weapon.'
The ADS has been used domestically, both on test subjects and prison inmates. It was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, only to be recalled, inexplicably, months later.
The military claims there are no lingering effects from exposure.
Manufactured by: Boeing (BA)
Release date: 2009
Only a few centimeters in diameter and invisible to the naked eye, the Avenger's laser is 20 times hotter than an electric stove top and can cut through artillery shells with ease.
The Avenger was designed with the hope of effectively detonating the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that inflicted more damage on American forces than any other weapon during the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Avenger is also being tested to take down aerial vehicles.
Manufactured by: QinetiQ -QQ
Release date: 2009
The MAARS Robot is a modified remote-control, bomb-disposal robot.
Customisable to various needs, the highly versatile MAARS can be configured with either an MB240 machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher, or a loudspeaker and eye-dazzling laser -- or bean bag guns, smoke, and pepper spray.
Manufactured by: Remington
Release date: 2010-2011
The product of a long string of modifications to the 22 year-old M24 sniper rifle, the XM2010 is designed for high-altitude long distance fighting in extreme environments, like the battlefields of Afghanistan.
To provide quiet, pinpoint accuracy at up to 1200 meters, the XM2010 carries a large amount of gun powder in the bullets it fires. It has a flash suppressor, sound suppressor, and a thermal sleeve to hide the warm barrel from infrared detection.
When U.S. snipers graduate from their five weeks of training at Fort Benning, Ga. they are capable of hitting a man-sized target nine out of ten times at 600 meters -- over a third of a mile away.
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