Stealing the Sword: Limiting Terrorist Use of Advanced Conventional Weapons

By James Bonomo; Giacomo Bergamo et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
What Types of Advanced Military Weapons
Could Become Available to Terrorists?
Although most modern military weapons are more powerful than similar antecedents, many may be implausible for terrorist use. For example, there is little likelihood that a terrorist group would attempt to acquire and use a main battle tank or a jet fighter. Similarly, a large warship would be of little practical value to terrorists. As a result, the types of military weapons on which this book focuses are relatively small, person- or light-vehicle transportable systems that would be relatively easy to conceal and use. Most are systems that one person or a small group could employ. The research team sought to identify weapons with these characteristics and with steadily advancing capabilities that would be potentially attractive to terrorist organizations.
That screening effort resulted in the following list of weapons and devices for analysis:
Advanced small arms. Rifles, pistols, and other individual weapons are easily carried by one person. Trends include better accuracy, greater range, and improved penetration of targets.
Mortar systems. Mortars provide the ability to hurl an explosive projectile high into the air against targets several kilometers away. In recent years, mortars have gained precision strike capability through the integration of computer aids, GPS locators, and guided munitions.
Sniper systems. Precision small arms, usually at or above 0.50 caliber and with new sighting and other aids, allow people lacking extensive sniper training to be able to engage targets at greater distances.

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