B-52 crews use 'smart-guided' cluster bomb

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Rick Burnham
  • Air Force Print News
Air Force B-52 Stratofortress crews made history April 2 when they dropped six sensor-fused cluster bombs on a column of Iraqi tanks headed south out of Baghdad.

The bombing runs resulted in the destruction of the tanks and marked the first time in history that CBU-105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers have been used in combat, officials from the Combined Forces Air Component Command said.

The CBU-105 is a "smart-guided" cluster bomb. It disperses smaller bombs that sense the engine heat from armored vehicles and then fire downward to destroy them. In addition, it is equipped with wind-compensating technology that steers the munitions to precise targets by compensating for launch conditions, wind and adverse weather.

The historic bombing runs were part of a highly successful period of Operation Iraqi Freedom for coalition aircraft, one that Department of Defense officials lauded during an April 2 press briefing at the Pentagon. Army Maj. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, vice director of operations for the Joint Staff, said bombing of the Iraqi capital in recent days has been astounding, both in its precision and in its overall effect.

"The pounding that Baghdad has taken has been extraordinarily precise in its nature," he said. "It has been nothing like what some people visualize as the destruction of a city. It is focused on regime-oriented targets and very carefully done. So certain things have been pounded, but only those are things that represent regime-oriented targets."

To illustrate that point, the general showed reporters video of a recent F-117A Nighthawk bombing run that used a precision-guided weapon to pummel a surface-to-air missile facility on the southwestern outskirts of Baghdad.

Coalition aircraft flew more than 1,000 sorties over Iraq on April 1, McChrystal said. The focus of air operations was on regime leadership targets, Republican Guard divisions and on countering missile threats, he added. Coalition forces have fired more than 700 cruise missiles and have dropped more than 10,000 precision-guided munitions since Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

Many of the recent missions have concentrated on Iraq's Republican Guard, he said, adding that those missions have made an everlasting impact on the "elite" forces of Saddam Hussein.

"It is somewhat unclear on the battlefield, because there has been reinforcement of the Medina and Baghdad sectors by some additional Republican Guard organizations," he said. "But I would say that the Medina and Baghdad divisions are no longer credible forces."