What Advanced Conventional Weapons Are
Potentially Most Useful and Attractive to Therrorists?
In assessing the attractiveness of a particular advanced conventional weapon system to terrorist adversaries, the central consideration must be the potential benefit that the terrorist organization might gain by acquiring and using the weapon. Having examined a variety of nextgeneration weapons, it is clear that there are many potentially dangerous conventional weapons being introduced into the inventories of modern military forces around the world. However, most of the weapons improve upon the lethality, usability, or reliability of existing weapons on the margin. As such, these new weapons are excellent candidates for replacing obsolete weapons but, from a homeland security perspective, which is focused on concerns about the potential impact of small numbers of these weapons used by terrorists, they do not dramatically alter the potential impact of terrorist operations. Only a few of the weapons under development stand out as what we have termed game-changing weapons—systems that fundamentally alter the relationship between the attacker and the defender.1 Such major shifts are of the most concern with respect to homeland security in general and in the design of protective measures specifically.
1 Dramatic enhancements that change the probability of arrival, probability of hit, or probability of kill all have the potential to be game-changing weapons. In the context of conventional weapons, the greatest changes seem to be associated with altering the probability of arrival or the probability of a hit.