Technology of War

Modern warfare is a formidable display of technological expertise. These articles examine some of the weapons and defenses that play a prominent role in modern combat, as well as some pieces of technology that could play a role in the future.

Bombs, Missiles and Explosives


How Rail Guns Work

Using a magnetic field powered by electricity, a rail gun can hit a target 250 miles away in six minutes. Rail guns leave gunpowder-based weapons in the dust. So why isn't the military using them now? Find out how rail guns can be used and learn about the limitations of this technology.

How Rocket-Propelled Grenades Work

Rugged and simple, the rocket-propelled grenade is suitable for downing helicopters, disabling tanks or attacking buildings at close range. In the hands of a skilled operator, the RPG is a lethal and versatile weapon. Find out all about RPGs.

How Nuclear Bombs Work

Nuclear weapons are the most serious looming threat in just about any major conflict. This article explains the basic technology of nuclear bombs and details the sobering consequences of their use.

How Bunker Busters Work

Ordinary bombs can take out surface facilities; but when the target is underground or otherwise embedded, the job requires a bomb with penetrating power. That's where bunker busters come in.

How Cruise Missiles Work

Cruise missiles are a prominent example of the remote battle technology used in modern warfare. The missile is essentially an unmanned airplane, which can deliver a 1,000-pound bomb to a target 1,000 miles away.

How Smart Bombs Work

Smart bombs are a leading technology in the U.S. arsenal. The newest models can navigate their own way to specific ground targets with startling accuracy, even in poor weather conditions.


How E-Bombs Work

Electromagnetic weapons attack not by killing, but by destroying the electrical devices militaries and governments depend on. In the near future, these weapons could play a major role in U.S. operations. Low-tech versions might be used in devestating terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

How Dirty Bombs Work
A terrorist dirty bomb attack on the United States wouldn't approach the destruction to life and property of a nuclear blast, but it would certainly take a high psychological toll. The effects of this crude weapon can last for years, even decades.
How MOAB Works
The massive ordnance air burst bomb is one of the newest weapons in the U.S. arsenal, and one of the most powerful. It's among the largest and most deadly conventional bombs ever built.
How Sidewinder Missiles Work
Even after 50 years, the sidewinder still seems like something out of science fiction. This air-to-air combat missile can actually find its target by itself, allowing fighter pilots to fire on the enemy and get to safety.
How Stinger Missiles Work
Ground-to-air weapons play a major role in many modern conflicts. Armed with stinger missile launchers, ground forces can take out low-flying planes and helicopters. Like the sidewinder, the stinger can automatically zero in on a moving target.
How Patriot Missiles Work
Designed to detect, target and then hit an incoming missile, Patriot missile batteries have been activated several times in the current war. These SCUD busters are an effective form of defense against chemical and biological warheads.
How C-4 Works
C-4 pops up regularly in the news, because it is a favorite of explosive of both military forces and terrorist organizations. This article explains what makes C-4 so deadly and explores a few of its more common uses.