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Cluster bomb

Commonly known as a cluster bomb, the cluster bomblet unit (or CBU) is a single air-dropped bomb which ejects about 200 small bomblets. These are often stabilized with small parachutes or streamers. They may explode on contact with the ground or be fused with a delay. The bomblets have an anti-personnel function, and sometimes are designed to pierce tank armor as well.

CBUs are designed to scatter over a specific area, causing significant damage to buildings and people. The bomblets have the shape and size of a soft drink can, are bright yellow, and weigh 1.5 kg. They are designed to fragment at high velocity into hundreds of pieces of shrapnel.

CBUs are able to ignite combustible materials. They can pierce through 125 mm of armoured steel.

The use of these weapons is hotly opposed by many individuals and groups, such as the Red Cross and the United Nations, because about 10% of the bomblets do not explode on impact, and act like land mines for many years. The small size and bright colours of the bomblets make them attractive to passers-by, especially small children. CBUs are still a danger in Indochina, especially in Laos and southern Vietnam. More recently, in Afghanistan, several civilians including children have been killed by unexploded bomblets.

Cluster bomb technology was developed independently by America and Russia, and is now widely available.

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