Saturday, December 11, 2010

US sells CBU-105 Sensor-Fuzed Weapon to India

Going after a vehicle such as a surface to air missile launcher, or a cluster of vehicles like a formation of enemy tanks, can be a tricky business for a fast jet pilot. Vehicles hide, they shut off their radars, or there are just too many of them to effectively target and destroy en masse. Weapons like ATK’s AGM-88E AARGM and MBDA’s Brimstone missile can help, but there’s another solution. Textron’s Sensor-Fuzed Weapon (SFW) bomb scatters 40 projectiles, to cover 30 acres. The “skeet” projectiles, which look like tuna cans, will search for targets as they descend, then fire the equivalent of a tank shell through the target’s top armor. If no targets are found, 3 safety modes ensure that the area is safe for troops to move through within several minutes – which means it’s also safe for civilians years later.

On Sept 30/08, the US DSCA conveyed India’s formal request for a variant of the SFW with GPS guidance… but which IAF aircraft will carry them?

The interesting question is, which aircraft will carry the CBU-105 SFW/WCMD bombs? Integration with Russian aircraft would pose additional challenges, which makes India’s Jaguar strike aircraft or Mirage 2000/Vajra aircraft its most likely candidates.

During the 1999 Kargil War, the performance of India’s Mirage 2000H/TH aircraft made them the IAF’s preferred aircraft for high-altitude bombing. That’s a much safer approach, because it keeps the aircraft above short range air defense systems. Thanks to its WCMD kit, the CBU-105 is perfectly suited to that approach, which is why it has been added to USAF B-52, B-1, and B-2 bombers. While the status of a proposed Indian upgrade to Mirage 2000v5 Mk2 standard remains uncertain, India’s Mirage 2000 fleet has already received some local upgrades to improve their capabilities. The Vajra fleet’s niche within the IAF, plus that base of experience with local modifications, make it the most likely candidate to carry India’s CBU-105s after the contract is signed, and deliveries begin.

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