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Ove Dullum- Cluster weapons – military utility and alternatives

Ove Dullum- Cluster weapons – military utility and alternatives

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Cluster weapons – military utility and alternatives
Ove DullumForsvarets forskningsinstitutt/Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI)1 February 2008
FFI-rapport 2007/02345Oppdrag 351301ISBN 978-82-464-1318-1
Militære operasjoner / Military operationsArtilleri / ArtilleryFlybomber / Aircraft bombsKlasevåpen / Cluster weaponsAmmunisjon / Ammunition
Approved by
Ove Dullum Project manager Jan Ivar Botnan Director of ResearchJan Ivar Botnan Director 
FFI-rapport 2007/02345
English summary
This report is made through the sponsorship of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Its purpose is to get an overview of the military utility of cluster munitions, and to find to whichdegree their capacity can be substituted by current conventional weapons or weapons that are onthe verge of becoming available.Cluster munition roughly serve three purposes; firstly to defeat soft targets, i e personnel;secondly to defeat armoured of light armoured vehicles; and thirdly to contribute to thesuppressive effect, i e to avoid enemy forces to use their weapons without inflicting too muchdamage upon them. The report seeks to quantify the effect of such munitions and to compare thiseffect with that of conventional weapons and more modern weapons.The report discusses in some detail how such weapons work and which effect they have againstdifferent targets. The fragment effect is the most important one. Other effects are the armour  piercing effect, the blast effect, and the incendiary effect. Quantitative descriptions of such effectsare usually only found in classified literature. However, this report is exclusively based onunclassified sources. The availability of such sources has been sufficient to get an adequate picture of the effect of such weapons.The calculations show that many of the cluster weapons have a more modest effect than usuallyassumed. Cluster weapons do have a satisfactory or adequate effect against most targets. Under certain conditions the effect is quite good. However, no evidence has been found to claim thatsuch weapons are far better than their alternatives to the extent that they indispensable.A quite common type of cluster munitions is the so-called DPICM (Dual Purpose ImprovedConventional Munition) that was used extensively in Lebanon in 2006. The bomblets of this kindis characterized as being small, they detonate at the ground surface, they a limited amount of explosive, and their basic design is such that they eject their fragments almost parallel to theground of even downwards. Thus their range is limited. Only a few fragments are effective atdistance from the bomblet impact point.Compared with conventional high explosive munition, like the M107 artillery projectile, theeffect of cluster munition is up to 50% better against soft targets. Modern high explosive ishowever claimed to be 30% better than M107. Thus the gap between cluster munitions andunitary high explosives may become quite narrow.When cluster munitions were introduced they constituted the only viable way to defeat armouredtargets at long distance in an indirect mode. In the meantime armoured vehicle have been fittedwith kits that limit the effect of small bomblets, rendering cluster weapons less effective againstsuch targets. Additionally, the so-called sensor fuzed warheads (SFW) have become available. Amixture unitary conventional high explosive munitions and SFW’s will be a far better choice thancluster weapons. Even though SFW’s are very expensive, their effect is so superior that their useis cost effective in comparison to cluster munitions.
 An extended executive summary is found in appendix E.

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