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Air Weapons: Hockey Pucks From Hell
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September 13, 2013: Saudi Arabia has joined South Korea, India, Oman, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates as purchasers of CBU-105 sensor fuzed weapons. Average cost is over $700,000 each of these cluster bombs, and the Saudis have ordered 1,300 of them.

First used during the 2003 Iraq war, the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a cluster type bomb that releases 10 29.6 kg (65 pound) BLU-108 submunitions that in turn ejects 4 smaller hockey puck shaped “skeet” robots that seek out and attack armored vehicles. Each computer controlled and radar equipped skeet is 95mm (3.75 inches) high, 127mm (5 inches) in diameter, and weights 3.4 kg (7.5 lb) and contains laser and heat (infrared) sensors. The CBU-105 can be used to attack formations of tanks, giving most of the submunitions an opportunity to destroy a vehicle.

CBU-105 is a 450 kg (1,000 pound), GPS guided bomb. The 40 skeet submunitions use their sensors to seek out armored vehicles. If a skeet spots one, the guidance system maneuvers the submunition towards the vehicle and fires a shaped charge that generates a self-forging warhead that is basically a bolt of molten metal travelling at high speed. This penetrates the thinner top armor of the vehicle and messes up the insides. This is similar to the Iranian shaped charge IEDs used in Iraq. If the submunition radar does not spot (via its internal computer and library of vehicle types) a tank or other armored vehicle, it attacks any vehicle within a hundred meters or so. If there are no vehicles, the submunition detonates on the ground so that it does not lay around the battlefield causing a hazard to civilians or friendly troops. The 40 skeets in one CBU-105 can scan an area 460x150 meters in size. The GPS guidance gets the CBU-105 to the area designated before releasing the submunitions, thus aircraft can release the CBU-105 out of range of most anti-aircraft weapons.

The BLU-108 submunition and their “skeets” was developed at the end of the Cold War, to be a major weapon against the thousands of Russian tanks aimed at Western Europe. The BLU was meant to be deployed in artillery shells and rockets as well as cluster bombs. That option was gradually dropped. Development was not completed until the late 1990s, and the U.S. Air Force reduced its purchasing plans from several hundred thousand BLU-108s to less than 50,000. The BLU-108s were later incorporated into a larger GPS guided cluster bomb.

 

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