The Weapons: Inside the High-Tech Arsenal

Smart bombs, fast planes and sharp-eyed satellites have made U.S. weapons into stars, but precision engineering can cut both ways

For years, American military hardware has been the butt of bitter jokes, taxpayer complaints and congressional investigations. To judge by the cost overruns and testing mishaps, the U.S. arsenal seemed to consist of planes that spun out of control, tanks too cumbersome to maneuver and spare parts with Tiffany price tags. What a difference a war makes. Now that U.S. Patriots are chasing down Scuds and laser-guided bombs are nailing targets in Iraq, the once derided weaponry has become the star of the war. Suddenly, everybody is a weapons buff.

For military planners, the apparent success of their high-tech equipment in...

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