Indian Air Force Tests the CBU-105 Anti-Tank Smart Bomb
While tanks rule the territorial battlefield, it is air power that decides the outcome.
In the hotly contested-arena between land forces and airpower, the Indian Air Force now has another ace up its sleeve. This is the new anti-tank CBU-105 sensor-fused smart bomb. This weapon carries a 450kg explosive payload and was deployed along with Jaguar deep-strike aircraft in a test at Pokhran recently.
The bomb successfully destroyed an entire dummy tank brigade target.
The CBU-105 was initially developed as the CBU -97 (Cluster bomb unit) which was an unguided air-dropped munition. With the addition of fins, a guidance system, and a more streamlined body, the CBU-105 was born. This system was also called the Wind Corrected Munitions System. Patents for this weapon system date back to 1979 in the U.S. when in partnership with Textron Systems, the U.S. Air Force tested the initial versions of the CBU -97. The addition of the wind correction and smart guidance system made it a lethal, precise air-to-ground weapon system. The CBU-105’s 26 m (85 ft) CEP (circle of equal probability) of the WCMD is lower than some other PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) in service with developed armed forces, but it is adequate for sub-munitions designed for suppression operations.
Primarily intended for SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) operations, the CBU-105 is being positioned as an effective anti-armor weapon, thanks to its wide area of coverage, all-weather utility and multiple-platform compatibility.
When a CBU-105 SFW (sensor-fused weapon) is deployed, its onboard navigation system uses GPS and sensors to navigate the bomb to a point closest to the target. When the sensors determine that the waypoint has been reached, a release door is opened. 10 BLU-108 sensor-fused sub-munitions or mini bombs free-fall towards the target. Let’s look at what happens to one of the 10 sub-munitions.
A parachute is installed on each sub-munition. The parachute opens when the designated target zone is reached. On reaching the designated altitude, the parachute is jettisoned with the help of small rockets. Along with correctly aligning the direction of motion, the rockets add an angular spin to each sub-munition. When the sub-munitions start rotating at a high speed, four hockey puck-shaped sensor-fused projectiles called skeet are propelled outwards due to centrifugal force.
An infrared sensor is mounted on each skeet. This locks on to a target and detonates the skeet. This explosion releases a molten copper penetrator, which is hot enough to penetrate armor. A wide shrapnel ring is also created because of the fragmentation of the skeet.
In case the bomb has been dropped accidentally or if all targets have been eliminated, the skeet self-destructs on hitting the ground. This is to prevent the risk of unexploded munitions setting off explosions when friendly forces move in.
When the Indian Air Force tested the weapon at Pokhran, they used SEPECAT Jaguar (a.k.a. Shamsher) strike aircraft. The aircraft was equipped with the Drain III navigation system and will now undergo the necessary upgrades to deploy the CBU-105 as a line weapon system.
Technical Specifications — SFW (CBU-105)
- Total weight: 427 kg
- Overall length: 2300 mm
- Diameter: 400 mm
- Number of submunitions: 10 BLU-108 submunitions
Technical Specifications — BLU-108
- Total weight: 29 kg
- Length: 790 mm
- Diameter: 133 mm
- Number of submunitions: 4 Skeet submunitions
Technical Specifications — Skeet submunition
- Total weight: 3.4 kg
- Length: 95 mm
- Diameter: 127 mm
- Sensors: dual-band IR; LADAR
The CBU-105 has a greater than 99.6% reliability rate and has been purchased by many countries so far. One of the biggest orders was a 1300-bomb deal signed by Textron with Saudi Arabia in 2013. With the addition of the CBU-105, the IAF will have another potent weapon to field against an aggressor.
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