And now, time to develop some native industry. Our specific impetus is that we think cluster bombs are highly useful things. While the Dublin Convention bans them for signatories, plenty of nations didn’t sign on. Including arch-nemesis Russia. And likely troublemaker China. And frankly, why should they? Yes, war is horrible. Yes, the effect on the civilian population really sucks. But there are tons of unexploded shells in Northern France from World War I and tons of unexploded bombs throughout Europe from World War II. Let’s ban those too! Really, let’s just ban war. Oh wait, we tried that. Didn’t work1. Additionally, the Obama administration wouldn’t sell new customers any cluster munitions. So, we really can’t trust the United States to supply our needs, though Trump might change that in the near term. And neither can all of those middle eastern countries who have bought western aircraft/artillery. Time to fill a market void. And if we’re building cluster bombs, why not build some regular unitary-warhead bombs too?
Our goal is to reduce costs as much as possible by building a complete modular family. We’re going to have two sizes of cluster bomb dispensers: one in the 500ish kg size class, and one in the 1,000ish kg size class. We’ll then have various submunitions packages that we can put in the dispensers. We’ll review these packages first, then go over what we can attach to a dispenser (or a unitary warhead for that matter).
Package one is a bit of a mouthful, because it’s our analogue for the BLU-97/B. It’s a triple-threat, HEAT/Frag/Incendiary submunition. It’s got a shaped charge warhead to provide some anti-armor effect. This will necessitate an integral ballute to orient the shaped charge correctly so it will work if it hits armor. We don’t need a ton of penetration, since we’re hitting the roof. So we can make the charge rather small. This shaped charge warhead has a fragmentation casing to provide anti-infantry capability. It is also equipped with incendiary sustainer: material that burns hot for a while like magnesium that can be scattered by the explosion of the shaped charge to start fires. Three ways to do its job. Very cool. Total weight is about 1.55 kg, with explosive content of 290 g of cyclotol. These are cylindrical, with a diameter of 64 mm and a length of 17 cm. Really nice general purpose munitions.
Our second package is somewhat larger. These are thermobaric submunitions, also known as fuel-air explosives. For maximum safety, it actually uses a solid fuel air explosive warhead, weighing 33 kg. The idea here is to create a massive firestorm, which has a significant pressure wave secondary effect. It’s about 70 cm long and 34 cm in diameter, with an overall weight of 58 kg. It works with a dual fuse mechanism: the first releases the SFAE at an altitude of about 9 m and extends a probe, the second detonates everything when the probe hits the ground. The significant overpressure wave can be used for mine clearing, in addition to the obvious destructive uses.
Package three is a dual purpose mine. It uses an explosively-formed penetrator to provide anti armor capability, and it’s also equipped with a fragmentation casing for antipersonnel work. It has a parachute to slow it’s fall and a spring-loaded mechanism to right itself once it lands. This part is important since the explosively-formed penetrator must be pointing up to work. The self righting mechanism triggers after impact plus a time delay. There’s an additional delay before the mine is armed. It contains about 0.6 kg of explosive, has an overall weight of 2.4 kg, a diameter of 10 cm and a height of 15 cm.
Since the mines from package three are so small, they can be used alone or combined with other things. One such example is package four, which combines a bunch of our dual purpose mines with runway-destroying boosted penetrators. These are about 1.1 meters long and 10.2 cm wide, with a weight of 20.4 kg. A parachute delays the fall and orients them downward, at which point the parachute is jettisoned and a rocket drives them deep into the runway before a 3 kg warhead detonates. The mines are added to complicate reopening the runway.
Package five is some more dedicated anti-armor kit. These are submunitions, again equipped with an explosively-formed penetrator warhead, plus a ranging laser and an infrared sensor to determine if a tank is below the submunition. There’s also a self destruct mechanism so that if the submunition hits the ground without finding a tank, it will detonate anyway. There are drag flaps to induce a bit of oscillation in the fall so that the submunition can scan an area, while keeping the warhead pointed earthward. Diameter of the submunition is 13 cm, height is 9.5 cm, and weight is 3.4 kg. This is an analogue of the BLU-109. While in the 80s this was state of the art, by now the electronics industry has caught up, and the result isn’t too hard to duplicate. Offhand, Germany and Sweden both make similar submunitions.
That should cover most submunition needs that we can think of right now, but more can be added later. We also have a series of unitary bomb bodies. These are low-drag bodies in the 250, 500, 1,000, 1,500, and 2,000 kg size classes. There are also 1,000 and 2,000 kg class reinforced-case penetrator bodies. All unitary bombs have nose and tail fuse wells, and can accept a bunch of fuses, including contact, mechanical delay, and radar altimeter.
Both the unitary bomb bodies and the cluster bomb canisters can interface with a comprehensive set of accessory kits. There’s a basic tailfin kit for stability. A variant of this kit allows fin angles to be adjusted, in order to scatter bomblets for the cluster bombs by means of rotational inertia. There are a couple different fall delaying options, including parachute kits and ballute kits. In terms of guidance packages, there’s a GPS/INS equipped tail kit. This can be used alone or with a nose guidance kit. Laser guidance and IIR guidance nose kits are available. These may also be used with a conventional tail kit if a laser-guided bomb is desired, for example, instead of a Laser/GPS guided bomb. The IIR guidance kits are capable of transmitting back to a human operator or performing stand-alone automatic target recognition on a preloaded target. We can also add a wing kit if a standoff glide capability is desired.
- No really. Cf. the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928. If you think any such notion can actually work, or that this war will actually be the last war, then I have some bridges to sell you. ↩