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CBU-87

The CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition is a cluster bomb used by the United States Air Force. CBU stands for Cluster Bomb Unit.

It was developed by Aerojet General/Honeywell. In 1986, the bomb was introduced to replace the earlier cluster bombs used in the Vietnam War. The list price is set at $14,000 per bomb.

When dropped from an aircraft, a cluster bomb unit separates into several smaller bombs and makes many little explosions covering a larger area than a typical bomb would cover. The bomb is not necessarily used for precision, but for destroying multiple targets at once or making sure something gets hit along with the outer perimeter of the target getting hit as well.

The bomb is designed to be dropped by plane at any altitude and any air speed. It is a free-falling bomb and relies on the aircraft to aim it before it drops. Once it is dropped, it needs no further instruction, as opposed to guided munitions or smart bombs. The bomb can be dropped by a variety of modern-day aircraft. It is 92 inches long, 15.6 inches in diameter, and weighs 950 pounds. Inside the cluster bomb unit, there are mini-bombs (or bomblets) that deploy before it hits the ground. Each cluster bomb unit contains 202 armor-piercing shaped charge bomblets.

Manufacturers and the Department of Defense have claimed that the failure rate for each bomb is about 5%.[1] This would mean that of the 202 bomblets dropped, about 10 will not explode on impact. In reality however, the failure rates of the CBU87 have been much higher.[2]

The bomblets are stored in an SUU-65B canister. While descending in the air, the bomb starts spinning. After it drops to a certain altitude, the bomb breaks open and drops the mini-bombs. When the mini-bombs hit the ground, they will cover a large area and have separate explosions within that area. The CBU-87 can be adjusted so it can cover a smaller or wider area of land. Depending on the rate of spin and the altitude at which the main bomb opens, it can cover an area between 70 x 70feet and 400 x 800 feet. Decreasing these adjustments causes a lower surface area to be hit. Increasing them allows a wider surface area to be hit. There are 6 speeds that can adjust the bomb's rate of spin.

The CBU-87 is fused with an FZU-39/B proximity sensor. The sensor has 12 time selections which tell when the bomb is to be dispensed and discharge the bomblets. When the bomb opens up while falling, it separates into three pieces, not including the bomblets, and the BLU-97/B bomblets fall out.

When the CBU-87 is used in conjunction with the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser guidance tail kit, it is designated as CBU-103.[3]

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Operational use

During Operation Desert Storm, the US Air Force dropped 10,035 CBU-87s. During Operation Allied Force, the US dropped about 1,100 cluster bombs, and most of these were CBU-87s.

On May 7, 1999, a CBU-87 was responsible for one of the most serious incident involving civilian deaths and the use of cluster bombs, the Cluster bombing of Niš.

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