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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 February 2003, 14:41 GMT
Fact file: Cluster bombs - introduction

Cluster bombs are controversial weapons consisting of a canister which breaks apart to release a large number of small bombs. Click on the links in the image to find out more.

A range of so-called bomblets can be employed to attack different targets such as armoured vehicles or people - or to start fires.

They can cover a large area but do not have precision guidance. Dropped from medium to high altitudes, they can wander off target.

There is a significant "dud rate" of about 5%. In other words, many do not explode but, rather like landmines, litter the ground with the potential to explode years later.

The weapon

One widely-used cluster bomb is the US-manufactured CBU-87/B "combined effects munition". Weighing 950 lbs (430 kgs), it is the carrier for 202 BLU-97/B bomblets.

It can be dropped from a wide range of strike aircraft.

Wind corrected munitions dispensers - a tail kit containing guidance equipment - can be used to improve accuracy. Dropped from 40,000 ft, it can steer to a target area about nine miles away.


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