The U.S. military is turning to some serious firepower to go after Taliban drug labs in Afghanistan.
U.S. and Afghan forces this week attacked Taliban opium-production facilities with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which features a launcher mounted on an M1140 truck frame.
Check out the barrage in this video taken by Trevor Rhynes and released Monday by the Defense Department.
But as Pawlyk reported, the stealthy fifth-generation, twin-engine fighter developed for air-to-air superiority conducted a ground-attack mission, pummeling suspected drug labs in the country with small diameter bombs.
Similarly for the counter-narcotics mission, U.S. commanders turned to HIMARS, which is also made by Lockheed and carries a six-pack launcher or one MGM-140 ATACMS missile on the bed of a medium-duty truck.
The technology seems to be increasingly versatile -- the Navy and Marine Corps just last month test-fired the system from the deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) to gauge its ability to conduct precision fires at a shore target.
In that exercise, the HIMARS destroyed an unidentified land-based target from a distance of 70 kilometers, or roughly 43 miles, using a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary, or GMLRS-U.
It's not immediately clear whether the F-22 and HIMARS strikes suggest an evolving counternarcotics mission for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is the world's main source of opium and heroin production -- and the Taliban generates an estimated $100 million to $155 million annually in illicit income from the drug trade, potentially more than a quarter of total Taliban annual revenue, according to a 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service.