Resurrected Weapons: CBU-98/B

Here’s a new segment that’ll highlight some old weapons that never made it to the big time. I’ll also give my verdict of whether or not I approve of it as a possible system for Borgundy. Our first weapon is a runway denial cluster munition, the CBU-98/B. The idea here was to combine two other, proven effective systems in one cool bomb.

The first of those is the French Durandal bomb. This bomb was designed with a parachute to slow it’s fall as it oriented itself groundward. Then, a rocket motor would fire and drive the penetrator warhead into the runway surface before detonating, to maximize the destruction. It’s a pretty cool weapon designed to put really big holes in runways. Runways are great targets, because you can’t move them, you can’t hide them, and you can’t really armor them. Perfect! Except that runways, being a big strip of asphalt or concrete, aren’t all that hard to repair. The key is usually making lots of widespread destruction.

That’s where the second weapon comes in, the British HB 876 mine. Dropped from Hades cluster bombs (a BL755 variant) or from JP223 dispensers, these small mines are scattered about a runway. They have a nifty dual effect warhead: one part is a Misznay-Schardin Effect warhead that generates an explosively formed penetrator, and the other part is a pretty standard fragmentation jacket. So it combines antivehicle and antipersonnel effects into one cool mine. The bottom has a self-righting device to insure that it deploys appropriately.

The CBU-98/B was designed to put these two together in one bomb. First, for runway demolition, it contained eight BLU-109/B penetrator submunitions. They function exactly like the Durandal, except are significantly smaller, having 2.95 kg HE warheads instead of Durandal’s 115 kg (total) twin charges. But hey, you can put a bunch of them in one bomb. Additionally, the CBU-98/B also contained 24 HB 876 mines to cause problems for combat engineers trying to repair the runway. The whole package went in a standard SUU-64/B dispenser and weight about 385 kg or so.

So what do we think of this weapon? We really like it. Putting runways out of action is an important mission, and we do like penetrator weapons and cluster effects. They have the bonus effect of pissing off the hippies, which is good. Some questions of cost remain, as do whether or not the increased amount of damage when compared to a comparable sortie of more conventional bombs is significant enough to warrant the procurement. My instincts tell me this is probably the case. You could get more destruction with a bunch of bigger conventional bombs with unitary warheads, but a set of CBU-98s are going to take up fewer pylons and weigh less. It would also be a useful cruise missile warhead, saving aircraft the dangerous and difficult runway overflight mission.

Verdict: Approved by Borgundy War Department Procurement Board.

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