Tested In Battle PopSci's Iraq tech report card. Click to launch the slideshow. By Noah Shachtman, with reporting in Iraq David Axe | Published May 18, 2006 10:00 AM Uncategorized SHARE War spurs innovation, and U.S. soldiers are seeing a lot of it. How well is the new equipment performing in Iraq? Launch the Slideshow to find out. M-14 Sniper Rifle Old is new again with this reliable 1950s-era rifle, refurbished from existing inventories due to a pressing need for a midrange sniper rifle in desert conditions. Pros: Better range and stopping power than the M-16 and M-4 rifles that replaced the â€50s â€relic.â€ Cons: Fires more slowly than the M-16 and M-4, and requires different ammunition. Grade: A Meerkat Mine Detector Spindly mine-detection vehicles have been adapted for use against roadside bombs. They can be equipped with radar scanners and metal-detection gear. Pros: Blast resistant, but also designed to break apart in places when hit by an explosion, to protect the operator. Cons: They´re available only in small numbers and require armed escorts. Grade: B AH-64D Apache Longbow An upgraded version of Boeing´s original Apache chopper, featuring top-mounted radar, data links and better night sensors. Pros: Fast, lethal support for ground troops. Radar above rotors allows it to scan over hills without detection. Cons: Cost and complexity make it difficult to operate, and it´s vulnerable to ground fire. Grade: C Talon Small Mobile Robot Clawed ground robot, used to dismantle explosives. Multiple cameras, sensors and communication devices can be mounted between tracks. Pros: Has saved lives by letting soldiers handle bombs remotely. Can be made waterproof for underwater detection. Cons: Difficult to use at night, and sometimes gets tweaked by nearby radio jammers. Grade: A M1A2 Abrams Battle Tank Seventy-ton General Dynamics tank armed with machine guns and a 120-millimeter cannon. Has thermal sights and the latest battlefield network terminals. Pros: Nearly invulnerable to attack. Fast and quiet (for a tank). Can see and shoot accurately in the dark-even at 40 mph. Cons: Not suited to urban combat. Big, expensive, and sucks gas. Grade: C Link 16 Data Exchange System Permits similarly-equipped aircraft to exchange location and targeting data. Also connects aircraft with Navy ships and Army missile batteries. Pros: In theory, Link 16 enables a small number of vehicles to cover a vast territory. Cons: Has evolved in fits and starts, so many vehicles use incompatible message formats. Grade: D Buffalo Route-Clearance Vehicle Responding to threats from roadside explosives, the Army deployed this nearly indestructible 23-ton Buffalo route-clearance vehicle with tremendous success. Built by Force Protection Industries, it uses a clawed, 30-foot arm to move debris and examine potential explosives. Grade: A RQ-4A Global Hawk The RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle, designed by Northrop Grumman for high-altitude reconnaissance missions, is the first fully autonomous air vehicle used in combat. It was critical to identifying Iraqi defense systems early in the war. Grade: A MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle General Atomicsâ€built remote-controlled craft can circle above a target for 24 hours up to 400 miles from base. Equipped with sensors and Hellfire missiles. Pros: Provides excellent, real-time surveillance imagery and the ability to attack targets with little advance notice. Cons: Only a handful are airborne at any time, so most units don´t get them when they want. Grade: A Litening Targeting and Sensor Pod Carried on Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft, Northrop Grumman´s Litening has day and night sensors, laser targeting, and a data link to transmit live imagery. Pros: Turns jets into sophisticated surveillance platforms at the flip of a switch. Cons: Expensive, and available only in limited numbers. Grade: B+ cards gallery images iraq slideshow MORE TO READ RELATED Choosing the best over-ear headphones for your needs Your hearing is as distinct as a fingerprint, but here are our picks for some of the best over-ear headphones. READ NOW RELATED What actually happens to the clothes you donate depends on where you live It depends on where you live, but many... RELATED Frozen Siberian microbes just woke up from a 24,000-year nap—and immediately got busy The microscopic organisms wasted no time cloning themselves.