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BLU-108/B Submunition

The BLU-108/B submunition is currently produced for the SFW (NSN 1325-01-8801), a wide-area munition in the 1000-pound class. The BLU-108/B submunition weighs approximately 60 pounds, contains four warheads, and orientation and stabilization system, a radar altimeter, and a rocket motor. Each warhead fires an explosively-formed projectile triggered by a two-color infrared sensor. At a preset altitude sensed by a radar altimeter, a rocket motor fires to spin the submunition and initiate an ascent. The submunition then releases its four projectiles, which are lofted over the target area. The projectile's sensor detects a vehicle's infrared signature, and an explosively formed penetrator fires at the heat source. If no target is detected after a period of time, the projectiles automatically after a preset time interval, causing damage to material and personnel.

The BLU-108 sensor fuzed submunition was developed by the U.S. Air Force in partnership with Textron Systems as part of the Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW) air-to-ground strike munition. The proven efficiency and continued product enhancements have also made BLU-108 the submunition of choice for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy AGM-154B Joint StandOff Weapon (JSOW). The SFW, with its versatility, lethality and redundant self-destruct features, make it the weapon of choice for the 21st century war fighter.

In production since 1992, the original baseline BLU-108, as part of the Sensor Fuzed Weapon, has exceeded U.S. Air Force lethality requirements. More than 200 live tests have demonstrated the effectiveness of the SFW and BLU-108 in defeating a variety of combat vehicles.

The BLU-108 contains 4 smart Skeet warheads. The Skeet's Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) is the lethal component of the warhead. The one pound copper EFP, moving at hypersonic speeds, performs a kinetic energy kill of the target, thus minimizing collateral damage.

Today's improved Skeet warhead incorporates a fragmentation ring to defeat soft targets and their ancillary equipment. The Skeet's center core projectile is designed to defeat heavy armored vehicles. Effective against both hard and soft targets, the BLU-108 target set includes:

  • Main battle tanks
  • Mobile missile launchers
  • Air defense sites
  • Parked aircraft
  • Armored personnel carriers
  • Littoral targets

Redundant self-destruct functions designed into each Skeet warhead allow for clean battlefield operation.

Each Skeet has two built-in self-destruct features to help reduce the risk of unexploded ordnance being left on the battlefield. A timeout feature instructs the Skeet to self-destruct within seconds if a valid target has not been detected. An altitude feature causes detonation to happen a short distance above the ground. These important features significantly reduce the potential for unexploded ordnance on the battlefield-an issue for many older submunition products.

Unlike older, traditional "cluster" weapons, each Skeet warhead features built-in, redundant, self-destruct logic. If the Skeet warhead does not detect a valid target over its lofted trajectory, it will self destruct. Each warhead also contains a timed self-deactivation mode which denies explosive activation should the self-destruct feature not occur. These safety features minimize post air strike hazards to non-combatants and civilians.

The BLU-108 is capable of integration into a number of weapon systems:

  • BQM-109 Tomahawk, Raytheon Systems
  • SM-2 Land Attack STANDARD Missile, Raytheon Systems
  • MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). Lockheed Martin
  • AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile - Expanded Response (SLAMER), Boeing
  • AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), Lockheed Martin

After the BLU-108 is released from its dispenser, it is decelerated by a drogue parachute, then oriented by a main parachute to a vertical position. A rocket motor within the submunition fires, imparting spin and upward velocity. Upon reaching the proper spin rate and altitude, the 4 heat-sensing Skeets are released at right angles. The dual-mode active (laser) and passive (infrared) sensors, which are side-mounted on each Skeet, provide optimal performance against a wide variety of targets. The active sensor performs target profiling, while the passive sensor detects the target's thermal signature. When a valid target is detected, the EFP is fired, which defeats the target from the top. Area coverage is a function of the number of submunitions in each weapon; timing of the parachute deployment; and forward velocity of the weapon.

Pioneer's CBU-97/B Sensor Fuzed Weapon parachute system decelerates and re-orients the U.S. Air Force's BLU-108/B Submunition from transonic speeds using a patented hybrid Nylon/Kevlar Radial Cruciform Parachute. To fit the small volume available, this parachute is packed to the density of hardwood - 50 pounds per cubic foot (800 kilograms per cubic meter).

A Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) Program will take the existing design and make modifications to the projectile sensor, incorporating a dual mode (active/passive IR) for better target detection; modify the warhead to enhance soft target lethality; and increase the system footprint for better target coverage. Projectiles would be dispensed at a greater altitude expanding the area covered to about 600 feet by 1,800 feet. In addition, an insensitive explosive fill will replace the Octol used in the current warhead to satisfy Navy requirements for the BLU-108/B submunition used in one variant of the Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW).

BLU-108 BLU-108

Contractor Textron Systems
Length 31" (79cm)
Cylinder diameter 5.25" (13.3 cm)
Max Lateral dimension 7.25" (18.4 cm)
Max. weight 64 lbs. (29 kg)
Easy integration with carrier vehicle
No Electrical requirement from host carrier
No signal input requirement from host carrier
Long storage life in host vehicle

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Page last modified: 06-12-2017 17:40:40 ZULU