American ingenuity is an incredible force, particularly on the battlefield.
Weapons such as the M16 rifle have been battle-tested and refined to near perfection. Some American weapons, such as the atomic bomb, have been so powerful they changed the world.
While there’s no scientific way to compare these weapons, we took what we saw in service, what we’ve read, and what we’ve heard from troops to rank the most effective.
These weapons are trusted by the US military to defeat the enemy.
This post was originally by Robert Johnson and Geoffrey Ingersoll.
Range: 5 miles from plane to target
Depth: 20 feet, reinforced concrete
Weight: 4,700 pounds
Payload: 630 pounds of high explosives
Analysis: Nicknamed 'Deep Throat,' this bunker-buster is integral to digging out a well-entrenched enemy.
The GBU-28 can disable well-fortified enemy positions. The US sold Israel 100 of the bombs in 2005, and it sold a batch to South Korea in 2009 -- the South received them just months after the North's successful nuclear test in May of that year.
Name: After the large two-handed Scottish sword.
Method: A shaped-direction charge, which can be command-detonated, flings several hundred high-velocity steel ball bearings into the face of the enemy.
Round: 700 1/8-inch steel balls travelling 4,000 feet per second.
Analysis: Not just deadly, but deadly reliable, it's got 60 years of active service. The Claymore mine can be used for area denial and alarm systems, as well as for coordinated ambush. And they cost just $US110 a unit.
Calibre: 66 mm
Max Effective Range, Stationary Target: 600 feet
Warheads: In addition to fragmentary and antitank varieties, the M72 can fire a thermobaric warhead that is capable of killing everyone in a room or bunker with air pressure and heat alone.
Analysis: Practicality and spread are key here. Marines can each carry two of these instead of one AT-4 rocket, at approximately the same cost. Its small size and minimal backblast make it perfect for urban warfare -- a favourite of ground troops who know the enemy is behind a wall or hunkered inside an enclosure.
Weight: 9,000 pounds
Crew: Seven to eight
Munitions: 155 mm explosive rounds; precision-guided rounds; white phosphorous; illumination; among many others.
Analysis: Combined with the precision-guided round, this weapon can level a building and leave its neighbours relatively unscathed.
The variety of rounds and their lethality make the M777 a force to reckon with.
Weight: 27 tons
Travel Range: 216 miles at 35 mph
Firing Range: 11 to 19 miles
Ordnance: 155 mm shell
Analysis: Even deadlier than a stationary howitzer, the Paladin self-propelled howitzer can support the initial invasion of one city, move, and support the invasion of another, with little maintenance or delay.
Also equipped with .50-calibre machine guns and thick armour, its survivability is better than any other mobile howitzer.
Weight: 67 tons
Range: 250 miles
Land Speed: 25-35 mph
Armament: 105 mm and 120 mm cannons, one .50-calibre machine gun, and two 7.62 mm machine guns.
Analysis: Though largely unused since America's invasion of Iraq and the second battle for Fallujah, armoured 'cavalry' units simply have no replacement in potential ground operations.
It's not very practical, and upgrades and other costs related to the tank are a source of controversy. Still, it's a main battle tank and could be the backbone of a future large-scale US ground operation.
Weight: 32 tons.
Combat Range: About 500 miles
Analysis: Stealth, lethality, and survivability make this bird one of the deadliest in the flock, though it has been plagued with problems and sports an epic price tag. After a string of delays, the plane finally saw combat during the opening days of the US air campaign against Islamic State militants in 2014.
Crew: Two, pilot and gunner
Range: 315 miles
Speed: 175 mph
Armament: Three-barrel Gatling cannon, Hydra missiles, and TOW missiles
Analysis: A favourite of the US Marine Corps for its ability to act as a guard for helicopter flights as well as for its success in close air support.
The Cobra has outstanding manoeuvrability under fire and can coordinate fire to a 10-digit grid on the ground. Its pilots are notoriously cocky and more than willing to jump into the fight.
Range: 15 nautical miles
Accuracy: 7 to 13 meters
Use: Fixed and moving targets, precision strikes
Analysis: Shortly after Desert Storm in the early 1990s, the Air Force started researching guided bombs. It came up with the JDAM Kit, which essentially took existing 'dumb' bombs and turned them into guided munitions.
Now they have become a favourite of troops on the ground engaging in combined-arms battles. A JDAM can be guided in via a simple map, or 'lased' by a troop on the ground.
Effective Range: 2,000 yards
Round: .50-calibre BMG
Analysis: What started off as an anti-aircraft gun on US Naval ships has become the ultimate antipersonnel, antiarmor, antifortification intimidation factor on the battlefield.
It's not terribly different from its original 1918 design, and just the sound of the Fifty can send enemies scattering.
Range: 1,400 meters
Round: 40-53 mm
Weight: Any grunt who has carried it will say, 'Heavy as hell.' He'd be right -- it's about 73 pounds.
Analysis: Great for general mayhem and destruction. The MK-19 Automatic Grenade Launcher is by far the most specialised crew-served weapon in the infantry.
It's also one of the deadliest, which is why it was banned from the battlefield in the final years of the Iraq War.
Weight: 91 pounds
Range: 6,000 meters
Armament: High Explosive, smoke, illumination, IR illumination, training dummy
Analysis: After the Howitzer, an 81 mm mortar is the straight-leg infantryman's best friend.
A mortar man's entire array of military training comes down to centering a level on his 81 mm's tripod and dropping those shells exactly where he wants them.
Capable of striking the enemy at distance, mortars can also be deadly accurate. Just drop in the tube and cover your ears.
Weight: 27 pounds
Range: 800 meters with tripod, 600 with bi-pod
Analysis: Capable of turning enemy armour into Swiss cheese with its ferocious muzzle velocity, the more than 40-year-old weapon is adored by US grunts.
Easy to manufacture but difficult to maintain, it isn't the most practical gun, but one trigger squeeze can drop a group of enemies or disable a vehicle.
Round: 50 mm BMG
Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 feet per second
Range: 1,800 meters
Analysis: The weapon was developed as 'antimateriel,' to be used on military equipment and not people. But times change.
Now it's best known for use by snipers during small-arms support of ground-assault elements: in other words it's now an antipersonnel weapon.
Weight: 168 tons
Range: 7,000 miles
Armament: A hugely capable stealth bomber that can carry 30,000-pound bunker-busters as well as nuclear weapons.
Analysis: The B2 bomber is designed primarily to perform penetration nuclear bombings, but it can also run reconnaissance missions and targeted strikes. Aside from the ordnance mentioned above it can dump 80 500-pound JDAM missiles on top of the enemy.
Weight: Between 6 and 10 pounds
Range: Effective against human targets up to 550 meters
Rounds: 5.56 mm
Analysis: Sleek, light, accurate, and in later versions as reliable as an AK. It can even be equipped with an upper receiver that fires larger 7.62 mm rounds.
The M16 has been standard-issue military for decades, and it seems poised to stay that way for a while.
Weight: 61 tons
Range: 2,500 miles
Arms: 40 mm, 105 mm, and two 25 mm cannons.
Analysis: The Spectre is a legend, taking on even more mythical proportions with every mission.
With quality ground intelligence the Spectre is an Army unto itself, capable of disrupting the movement and supply of thousands of enemy troops -- and it can do it all under cover of darkness with a highly sensitive IR targeting system.
Displacement: 16,000 to 19,000 tons
Combat Radius: Limited only by onboard stores for personnel
Armament: Torpedoes, Tomahawk missiles, and a bevy of nuclear bombs
Analysis: Still said to be one of the keys to US defence, the Ohio class has global range and remains undeterred by above-ground attacks.
That independence is key. Without offshore nuclear-strike ability by the US, a gutsy enemy may think a land-based strike could take out American nuclear abilities. Ohio-class subs make that impossible.
Weight: 101,600 long tons
Power: Two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors
Analysis: The standard by which forward military projection is defined -- indeed, the nuclear-powered carrier has possibly done more for peace than for war. Its nuclear reactors also provide unlimited distance and 25 years of service.
The carrier delivers about 70 aircraft atop 4 acres of sovereign US territory any place on the globe.
Since most of the planet's large cities are near the coasts, American military might is everywhere it wants and needs to be. The USS Eisenhower even has a Starbucks to serve its crew of more than 5,000.
Weight: 30,000 pounds
Penetration: 200 feet of reinforced concrete
Warhead: 5,300 pounds of high explosives
Analysis: The GBU-57A/B Penetrator is the largest bomb of its kind in the world, and only a couple of planes in the American fleet are even capable of carrying it.
The MOP is why it's believed Israel will require US assistance on the increasingly distant chance it attacks Iranian nuclear facilities.
No other bomb will come close to passing through Iranian facilities' quartz-infused concrete; some of the strongest man-made material on earth refined from necessity by a country that's one big earthquake zone.
Height: 6 feet.
Weight: 185 pounds
Range: 25 miles
Armament: A big brain and centuries of finely honed military training.
Analysis: America's all-volunteer armed forces are as skilled as they are immense.
The US has taken the best of its ingenuity and enterprise and wrapped it up into the most sought-after military training in the world.
Countries from across the globe look to the US for help training their most elite and specialised forces. Driven by the largest economy in the world, there is little US troops can't do.
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