On the Internet, there was a spectacular video of the use of cluster bombs in Syria, presumably — RBC-500 SPBE. You can see how the combat elements, separated from the container, descend on parachutes. Then explode in the air, producing the impression of powerful fireworks. This bomb is designed to destroy enemy armored vehicles.
However, the effectiveness of this bombing is nothing concrete to say. Because the video does not show what happened on earth after multiple air explosions.
The video provided “non-system critics” with an excellent opportunity to talk about the barbarism of the Russian army using weapons prohibited by the international Convention. However, when studying the subject, you can find out that there is no violation. The bomb is quite “legal”.
RBK-500 SPBE — a Single cluster bomb 500-pound weight with submunitions. It is a thin-walled container in which 15 combat elements are placed. And this fact shows that Russian designers fully satisfied the requirements of the Convention on cluster munitions, which came into force in August 2010 and was signed by 113 States.
The danger of a cluster bomb for civilians not involved in military conflicts is its non-selectivity. Not all scattered on the ground warheads that were in the cassette triggered. And the victims of these unexploded charges are, above all, curious children. At one time, when the Convention was being prepared, the media was replete with photos of children with their arms and legs were torn off. However, the Convention does not prohibit the use of two types of cluster bombs:
— if the bomb is equipped with less than 10 submunitions, the mass of each of which exceeds 4 kg. And if each munition is designed to hit a single target and is equipped with electronic mechanisms for self-destruction and self-deactivation;
— if the bomb is equipped with submunitions weighing more than 20 kg.
The mass of each of the 15 combat elements included in the 500-kilogram thin-walled bomb is unknown. However, there is no doubt that each SPBE, designed to defeat armored vehicles, weighs at least 20 pounds.
Well, to finally close this issue, it should be recalled that the Convention has not been signed by Russia. It is also not signed by the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, Vietnam and a number of other States.
RBK-500 SPBE works as follows. Bombing is carried out at altitudes from 400 m to 5000 m at the speed of the aircraft from 700 km/h to 1900 km/h.
The cassette contains 14 shocks be and one command, which is equipped with an altimeter and has no ammunition. When separating the bomb from its carrier, all 15 were to leave it. The parachute is pulled out by the oncoming airflow from each is. At an altitude of 150 meters on the signal of the command be in 14 – be shot back parachute, produced a new parachute, smaller, and turns on the search for targets.
The search is carried out using a thermal (infrared) homing head, which has a 40-degree viewing cone. When capturing the target flight control it is carried out using the tail. In the final phase of the flight, the be equipped with a cumulative charge (4.5 kg of explosive), is shot towards the target. Armor penetration is — 70 mm at an angle of attack of 30 degrees relative to the vertical. This power is enough to hit the top of the main battle tank, not to mention the APC, BMP and other lightly armored combat vehicles of the enemy. The fact is that the upper projection of the tanks is the least protected.
By the way, this is used by the American ATGM “javelin”, which also attacks targets from above. It must be said that a bomb attack on a tank is more effective than an anti-tank missile attack, which only near the target makes a “hill”. The fact is that the active protection systems of the tank, hitting the incoming ammunition with a counter shot, do not track the attack from above.
Not all be can detect the fuel target, that is, a tank or APC with the engine turned on. And they do not work, fall to the ground. Statistics here such — one bomb is guaranteed to hit from 6 to 10 units of armored vehicles. Looking ahead, we say that a similar on the principle of the American cluster bombs, this figure is almost half.
However, what is posted online the video shows the undermining of a bomb RBK-500 SPBE, which is quite ancient. It was developed in the NGO “Basalt” (now part of the state Corporation “roster”) and began mass production in 1991. Subsequently, “Basalt” has created more advanced combat elements — SPBE-D. So that the presented video can be demonstrated and the use of bombs RBC-500 with new elements. The difference from the basic modification is that as a result of miniaturization there is no need for a command element. In the formation of the cassette SPBE-D all 15 elements of combat shock. Each of them is equipped with target search equipment and radar altimeter. That is, the power of the bomb increased. And also increased reliability, because before the success of the attack depended on the performance of one common element for the cassette — command.
After 4 years on the basis of the SPBE-D was created 9М55К1 ammunition for reactive systems of volley fire “Smerch”. The missile delivers five self-aiming combat elements at a distance of 20 km to 70 km.
Finally, the NGO “Basalt” has prepared for the state tests, which should begin this year, a new cluster bomb based on a new “filling” — SPBE-K. Bomb, which is called PBK-500U (planning bomb cassette) “Drill”, is significantly different from the thin-walled cassette, which “Packed” combat elements of previous modifications. First, it has become planning, able to fly independently up to 50 kilometers. At the same time, the flight takes place under the control of the GLONASS signal.
Secondly, the “Drill” reduced radar visibility. This is achieved through the use of the radioabsorbing coating.
New combat elements have several additional features. In this connection, their weight increased. That led to the fact that the equipped “Drill” weighs not 500 kg, but 540 kg. in Addition to the thermal GOS SPBE-K are equipped with radar. Thanks to this, it became possible to use the bomb against “cold” equipment, that is, with the engines off, and against engineering structures. Along with armor-piercing be cumulative action in the cassette used and concrete.
There was also one more important function: “Drill” can be sent to the thick of the tank battle. Due to the fact that the SPBE-K have the equipment request “friend or foe”, they hit only the enemy armored vehicles. So it is quite possible to assume that in Syria was made a test explosion “Drill”.
It must be said that both the RBC-500 and the PBK-500U are the response of our defense industry to the American aviation cluster munition AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon. More precisely, first there was a Russian bomb, and in 1995 the company Texas Instruments began to produce “bomb missiles”. The fact is that the AGM index in the US is assigned only to missiles. This is due to the fact that in the line of AGM-154 is not only planning bombs but also exactly the same bombs equipped with a jet engine that can fly 500 km. Bomb without an engine has a range of 110 km. This munition proved to be more effective than the RBC-500.
And now, it seems, we not only caught up but also ahead of AGM-154 in combat capabilities. However, not all — in the range of “Drill” still inferior to “American”. However, the race for the range has led to a decrease in the payload. The AGM-154 uses only 10 armor-piercing combat elements. And each of them has a smaller amount of explosive. The average American bomb is capable of hitting from 3 to 5 targets. The “Drills” this value is 6-10. Also, the AGM-154 has no selectivity towards its armored vehicles.