The CBU-97 is a 1,000-pound class weapon containing sensor-fused submunitions for attacking armor. The SFW is the centerpiece of the Air Force concept of operations for engaging an adversary's main armored force in the "halt" or "hold" phase of a Major Regional Contingency, in which the USAF would disrupt and stop an attack, providing time for other combatant forces to reinforce to the theater.
The primary components of this 1,000 pound class weapon are the SUU-66/B Tactical Munitions Dispenser (TMD), 10 BLU-108/B submunitions, and 40 "hockey puck" shaped skeet infrared sensing projectiles. The weapon is designed to be employed from US Air Force tactical aircraft from altitudes between 200 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) to 20,000 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) at speeds between 250 to 650 knots. Each CBU-97/B can cover an area of about 500 feet by 1,200 feet. Test results indicate that CBU-97 submunitions have a propensity to cluster and that impact patterns are unevenly distributed. This is contrary to the uniform distribution assumption employed in the Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual (JMEM). Because of the clustering effect, it appears that JMEM overestimates damage and more weapons may be required to destroy the target then predicted.
The Sensor Fuzed Weapon [SFW] is an unpowered, top attack, wide area, cluster munition, designed to achieve multiple kills per aircraft pass against enemy armor and support vehicles. After release, the TMD opens and dispenses the ten submunitions which are parachute stabilized. Each of the 10 BLU-108/B submunitions contains four armor-penetrating projectiles with infrared sensors to detect armored targets. At a preset altitude sensed by a radar altimeter, a rocket motor fires to spin the submunition and initiate an ascent. The submunition then releases its four projectiles, which are lofted over the target area. The projectile's sensor detects a vehicle's infrared signature, and an explosively formed penetrator fires at the heat source. If no target is detected after a period of time, the projectiles automatically after a preset time interval, causing damage to material and personnel.
A Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) Program will take the existing design and make modifications to the projectile sensor, incorporating a dual mode (active/passive IR) for better target detection; modify the warhead to enhance soft target lethality; and increase the system footprint for better target coverage. Projectiles would be dispensed at a greater altitude expanding the area covered to about 600 feet by 1,800 feet. In addition, an insensitive explosive fill will replace the Octol used in the current warhead to satisfy Navy requirements for the BLU-108/B submunition used in one variant of the Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW).
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