Shock & Awe – Devastating Power of ‘Smart’ US Bomb Which Can Take Out 40 Tanks At One Time

The CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a US Air Force 1,000-pound Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU). The CBU-97 in conjunction with the unguided gravity bombing techniques is converted to a precision guided weapon with the addition of the ‘smart’ CBU-105 submunitions.

This bomb unit has the capability of destroying 40 tanks at once!

The CBU-97 is comprised of the SUU-66/B tactical munition dispenser that contains 10 BLU-108 ‘smart’ submunitions. Each BLU-108 contains four hockey puck-like sensor-fused projectiles called ‘Skeets’, which gives the CBU-97 a weapon array of 40 individual bombs (skeets).

The ‘skeets’ can detect and engage target vehicles, such as battle tanks, air bases, armored personnel carriers, missile sites, and other support vehicles using a small infrared imager and firing a kinetic energy penetrator downwards at the targets.

Model of the SFW displayed at the Textron Defense Systems booth, Singapore Airshow 2008
Model of the SFW displayed at the Textron Defense Systems booth, Singapore Airshow 2008

The 40 ‘skeets’ can envelop an area measuring nearly 15 acres (1,500 feet by 500 feet) using infrared target imaging and laser sensors, identifying targets by pattern-matching.

When a ‘skeet’ detects a target, it fires a penetrating shaft of explosives along with densely fragmented shrapnel into the target and the surrounding area.

If a ‘skeet’ doesn’t detect a target, it will self-destruct 50 feet above the ground. If the self-destruct mechanism fails, there is a standby timer that disables the ‘skeet.’

These features are intended to avoid incidental civilian casualties from unexploded ordinance. The success rate of the self-destruct munitions is astonishing, reaching over 99% success.

The Singapore Airshow of 2008 had models of the Sensor Fuzed Weapons displayed at the Textron Defense Systems booth.

The results of the SFWs are awe-inspiring, even though it is all very technical.

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.