A more recent version of this page is available here.
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).
The SFW is operationally effective when employed at low altitude using level or shallow angle dive deliveries. The weapon is most effective when employed at low altitude from level flight attitudes in a non-countermeasured environment. Due to TMD performance limitations, the current SFW weapon configuration provides the user a limited range of tactical employment options. Weapon effectiveness decreases as release altitude, dive angle, and/or time of flight increases because of adverse effects of wind conditions, weapon dispersion, and aim point uncertainties on delivery accuracy. This performance degradation is an inherent characteristic of all inventory TMD weapons. Due to these TMD accuracy limitations, the USAF Air Combat Command plans to outfit SFW with Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) tail kit. The SFW's delivery envelope will be expanded to include strategic aircraft and higher altitudes through incorporation of the WCMD. The SFW with WCMD is designated CBU-105.
SUU-66/B tactical munitions dispenser|
10 BLU-108/B submunitions [@ 4 projectiles]
Integral part of dispenser|
FZU-39/B proximity sensor
200 feet20,000 feet (above ground level)|
250 knots650 knots
$360,000 - baseline|
$260,000 - PEP $39,963 [$ FY90]
|Inventory||500 in USAF inventory as of 01/01/1998|
Current USAF objective is 5,000
[17,000 originally planned ]