Military, Modern Day

US Military Still Uses its Most Iconic of Weapons

Most of the U.S. military’s weapons, such as transport helicopters, rotary cannons, and strategic bombers have been in service for a long time. In addition, multiple military-grade weapons are even old enough to be ranked among the most senior of arms.

Some weapons aren’t currently used in combat but are still present in formal or ceremonial parades. However, the military has upgraded some of its oldest weapons over the years.


> Year put into service: 1978

> Type: Mortar

> Designer/original manufacturer: U.S. military

The M224 60 mm is a high-angle-of-fire mortar used for close support of ground troops. Since 1978, the U.S. army has used the weapon in several conflicts including the Iraq and Gulf Wars.

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It can fire a 60mm mortar at an effective range of up to about 3,500 metres. In addition, the design is light in weight, weighing in at only 37 pounds. The army extensively used the M224 during the war in Afghanistan. The mortar system can shoot 20 rounds per minute while three personnel crew operate it during combat.

An M224 Mortar in action.
The M224 Mortar can fire an impressive 20 rpm for short periods.

M202 Flash

> Year put into service: 1978

> Type: Multi-shot incendiary rocket launcher

> Designer/original manufacturer: Northrop

The M202 Flash is an American rocket launcher designed to replace the World War II–vintage flamethrowers. Northrop Grumman Corporation, an American aerospace and defence technology company, manufactured the rocket launcher in 1978.

The modern flamethrower is a pre-loaded four-barrel shoulder-launched RPG-style weapon that can lob 66mm rockets, one at a time or all four at once. The launcher contains a chemical mix similar to napalm enabling it to burn the enemy to the ground. According to reports, the American military used M202s in the Afghanistan and Iran conflicts. However, the number of M202s used in the wars is unclear.


> Year put into service: 1977

> Type: General-purpose machine gun

> Designer/original manufacturer: Fabrique Nationale

The M240B is a general-purpose machine gun used by the American military. The machine gun takes inspiration from the famous Belgian gun Fabrique Nationale M.A.G.

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The M240 is a valuable asset of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps which can fire the standard 7.62x51mm NATO rounds at a considerable range.

The modern version of the machine gun is lighter, thus, more easily accessible than the previous models. The weapon is likely to stay in the military due to its versatility.

The machine gun in Iraq
An M240B 7.62mm calibre machine gun firing from a Humvee.

Emory S. Land Class Submarine

> Year put into service: 1977

> Type: Submarine tender

> Designer/original manufacturer: Lockheed

The Emory S. Land-class submarine tender is a class of three submarine tenders in the United States Navy and Military Sealift Command. U.S.S. Emory S. Land is the class lead ship; the others are the U.S.S. Frank Cable and the U.S.S. McKee.

The submarines are responsible for conducting maintenance operations at sea or port, carrying extra fuel, artillery, and other supplies. Furthermore, they can accommodate relief crews as well.

Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier

> Year put into service: 1975

> Type: Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

> Designer/original manufacturer: Newport News Shipbuilding

The iconic Nimitz-class aircraft carrier served the U.S. military for almost 50 years. The ship is a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Originally kept in reserve they were again deployed again on October 4, 2022, by the U.S. Navy. They are amongst the oldest military hardware still in service. In October 2022, The U.S. military replaced the aircraft carrier with the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford.

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The U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford conducted training and operations alongside the forces of nine allied nations in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford is the most advanced aircraft carrier, costing around $13.3 billion during production.


> Year put into service: 1961

> Type: Anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher

> Designer/original manufacturer: FA Spinale, CB Weeks, and PV Choate

The M72 LAW is a portable one-shot 66 mm (2.6 in) unguided anti-tank weapon. The Germans first introduced the bazooka in World War 2. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. decided to design its own shoulder-fired lightweight anti-tank weapon. Consequently, they introduced the M72 Law back in 1961. The M72 can penetrate at least 450mm of steel while combating armed targets. However, the maximum range of the weapon is only around 45 feet.

M72 Rocket launcher
M72 as used in Vietnam, 1968. An iconic weapon for an iconic war.

The M88 Recovery Vehicle

> Year put into service: 1961

> Type: Armoured recovery vehicle

> Designer/original manufacturer: Bowen McLaughlin York

The M88 Recovery Vehicle is one of the most oversized armoured recovery vehicles of the United States Armed Forces. The M88 series has seen action in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan. The vehicle’s primary goal was to recover heavily armoured vehicles of the Allied ground units during the wars.

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U.S. forces still use the M88 recovery vehicle during heavy operations. But, astonishingly, the car is still doing wonders even after 50 years plus service. The military has no plans to replace the recovery vehicle with advanced equipment.

M113 APC

> Year put into service: 1960

> Type: Armoured personnel carrier (APC)

> Designer/original manufacturer: F.M.C. Corporation

The M113 is a fully tracked armoured personnel carrier developed and produced by the F.M.C. Corporation in 1960. The U.S. military replaced the mechanised infantry’s M59 APCs while fighting in Europe in 1961. The Vietnam War-era M113 has also been crucial in protecting Ukrainian soldiers against Russian invaders during the current conflict.

The M113 personnel carrier weighs around 12 tons and moves at a modest 42 miles per hour. For protection, a .50 calibre machine gun and a 7.62mm M6 machine gun were fitted as standard.

The M113 APC
Armoured Personnel Carriers on their way to the Gaza border with Israeli troops 2014

UH-1 Huey

> Year put into service: 1959

> Type: Utility helicopter

> Designer/original manufacturer: Bell Helicopter

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is a utility military helicopter used by the American military. The American aerospace company Bell Helicopter manufactured the aircraft in 1959.

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is the first member of the prolific Huey family and was the first turbine-powered helicopter in the United States. The military used Iroquois in combat operations for the first time during the Vietnam War where it gained respect from both pilots and troops. In addition, due to its popularity, many film directors featured the aircraft in Vietnam war films.

The U.S. military deployed around 7,000 Iroquois in Vietnam; however, only 3700 returned home safely. The Rhodesian Bush War, Falklands War, War in Afghanistan, and the 2007 Lebanon conflict were some other significant conflicts where the American military used the Iroquois.


> Year put into service: 1957

> Type: Medium machine gun

> Designer/original manufacturer: Saco Defense

The M60 is arguably one of the most iconic weapons in U.S. history. This general-purpose machine gun weighing around 23 pounds, can fire at a sustained rate of over 600 rounds per minute. However the rate of fire was much less in combat situations and the barrel had to be swapped after every 10 minutes or so.

Although a strong soldier could carry and fire the gun, it requires a team of three to transport and load the weapon. The gun was adopted in 1957, making it one of the oldest weapons in American history still in use.

The M60. Still in use today
.A Seabee of NMCB-15 (Naval Mobile Construction Battalion), with an M60 in Iraq 2003

Caterpillar D9

> Year put into service: 1955

> Type: Bulldozer

> Designer/original manufacturer: Caterpillar

The Caterpillar D9 is a large track-type tractor designed and manufactured by Caterpillar Inc in 1955. The primary goal of this vehicle is to recover stuck armoured cars. The commercial version of the D9 are coloured yellow; Caterpillar’s trademark. However, the army paints military D9s to blend in effortlessly with the environment.

The vehicle is armoured to protect its two-person crew from shell fragments and small arms fire. Additionally, machine guns can also be attached to the car for further protection.

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B-52 Stratofortress

> Year put into service: 1954

> Type: Strategic bomber

> Designer/original manufacturer: Boeing

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is also among the oldest military weapons still in use today . Boeing created this iconic jet bomber back in 1954 which has been part of the American military for more than 60 years.

The Boeing B-52 has served the American military in almost every major conflict they have participated in since the 1950s. This astonishing lifespan makes it the longest-serving jet bomber in America today. Even in 2022, The U.S. Air Force used a B-52 as a platform to test a Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) missile.

B-52 bomber
The iconic B-52 bomber, still doing what it was designed for

M15 Mine

> Year put into service: 1950

> Type: Anti-tank blast mine

> Designer/original manufacturer: U.S. Military

The M15 is an anti-tank mine developed shortly after WWII by the U.S. military. The mine is a more extensive and improved version of its predecessor, the M6A2 anti-tank mine. Multiple countries have replaced this mine, but the U.S. still keeps them due to their effectiveness. These mines disable battle tanks and armoured or unarmoured vehicles during attacks.

M1919 Machine Gun

> Year put into service: 1919

> Type: Medium machine gun

> Designer/original manufacturer: John Browning

John Moses Browning’s iconic M1919 Browning machine gun is still in use. He designed this world-famous weapon back in 1919, which is an advanced air-cooled version of the standard U.S. machine gun of World War I.

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The emergence of general-purpose machine guns in the 1950s pushed the M1919 into secondary roles. As a result, its popularity declined, especially after the arrival of the M60 in the U.S. Army service. However, it is interesting to note that the M1919 is still relevant in the U.S. military today.

Browning M1919 in action
US soldiers fire a M1919A4 in Aachen, Germany in WW2. Note the spent cartridge cases.

The US Military M1911

> Year put into service: 1911

> Type: Semi-automatic pistol

> Designer/original manufacturer: John Browning

John Moses Browning designed The M1911 semi-automatic pistol back in 1911. The U.S. military still uses the handgun because of their impact and durability. The basic M1911 design has only seen minor changes throughout its long production life.

Many military and law enforcement organisations in the U.S. continue to use (often modified) M1911A1 pistols. These include Los Angeles Police Department SWAT and S.I.S., the F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Team, F.B.I. regional SWAT teams, and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta (Delta Force).

M1903 Springfield

> Year put into service: 1903

> Type: Bolt-action rifle

> Designer/original manufacturer: Springfield Armory

The M1903 Springfield is an American rifle manufactured by Springfield Armory in 1903. It is called the official rifle of the American military. It was one of the most used guns during World War I.

Due to its accuracy, US marines used the gun in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Currently, the American military uses the weapon during ceremonial activities. In addition, it remains popular as a civilian firearm, a historical collector’s piece, a competitive shooting rifle, and a military drill rifle.