Artillery: June 22, 2003

Archives

Cluster bombs, a technology that was developed four decades ago, is becoming obsolete because of smart bombs and bad publicity. Cluster bombs are usually  a one thousand pound bomb that releases up to 200 or more smaller bomblets, were used widely during the Vietnam war. It's estimated that some 285 million bomblets were dropped on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the war. The cluster bombs ability to cover a large area with lethal bomblets had great appeal to the air force. But five percent, or more, of the bomblets did not go off when they were supposed to. Or if they were delayed action bomblets, they did not self destruct when they were supposed to. This meant that there were at least 14 million of these bomblets lying around. Many, no one is sure how many, were really duds. But others would, if handled, explode, killing or maiming whoever was nearby. There have always been dud munitions, be they bombs, shells, mines or hand grenades. These lethal "duds" are still being encountered after being used in wars over a century ago. But the 20th century put the most dud munitions into the ground. The problem with cluster munitions (now used in artillery shells and rockets as well) is that there are more of them, they are on the surface (not buried like dud bombs and shells) and they are smaller (and thus harder to spot, and easier for kids to pick up and turn into a plaything). You can reduce the dud rate to less than one percent, but this doubles the price of the bomblets and you still have duds out there. These dud bomblets are a risk to your own troops as well. After the 1991 Gulf War, over sixty coalition troops were killed or injured by dud bomblets. The trend is away from lots of bomblets, towards larger, "smarter" and more reliable submunitions. The SADARM submunition was used for the first time in Iraq and was very successful. This anti-vehicle weapon is delivered by artillery shell (two SADARM per 155mm shell), MLRS rocket (six SADARM) or by bomb (a dozen or more SADARM). An even "smarter" anti vehicle weapon, BAT, is just entering service. But the army still likes cluster bomb because of their effectiveness against enemy troops and their cost (SADARM costs over a hundred times as much as a bomblet). But the downside of cluster bombs may bring about their demise. Just like chemical weapons were dropped for psychological, not military, reasons, the same may happen with cluster munitions.

 


Article Archive

Artillery: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
$0
$2500

Don't Let Us Go Up In Smoke!

January, February and March are notoriously low ad revenue months online. And StrategyPage has not been spared. We need to raise $2500 in combined subscriptions and contributions to keep us moving forward.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close