Raytheon's $70,000 magic bullet
Smart bombs. Laser-guided missiles. Actual laser guns.
The weapons that America's defense contractors churn out often seem like the stuff of science fiction. The platforms that deploy them, too, sound unfailingly high-tech: "fifth-generation" fighter jets, "drone" aircraft, and "stealth" warships. But did you know that one of the military-industrial complex's most important inventions comes out of the barrel of a howitzer?
King Arthur, eat your heart out
It's called the "Excalibur," and it's a 155-millimeter howitzer round that creator Raytheon (ticker: RTN ) says can target an object 30 miles away and consistently hit within two meters of that target. To put that in perspective, say you set up a Paladin self-propelled howitzer in San Jose, Calif., and stood William Tell's son somewhere in the suburbs of San Francisco with an apple on his head. Say you then told the Paladin to hit the apple with an Excalibur round. Excalibur might miss the apple -- but nine times out of 10, it'll nail the younger Tell somewhere between socks and eyebrows.
In fact, Excalibur is usually even more accurate than tha