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Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Explainer: Naming of Parts for an Instrument of Civilian Slaughter

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Generic illustration of a cluster bomb releasing a swarm of bomblets, depicted as grey canisters. Diagram Source: Norwegian People's Aid

The PTAB 2.5M anti-armor bomblet has a cylindrical body with a dome-shaped ballistic cap at its front and it terminates in a four-fin tail unit that is structured in a drum configuration. In its Aug. 2, 2012 online posting, Jane's Air-Launched Weapons noted that the tail unit comes in both short and long versions.

The entire bomblet measures 0.87 meters in length, has a body diameter of 60 millimeters and weighs 2.5 kilograms. Just behind the nose is a shaped charge weighing 660 grams and consisting of a RDX/TNT mixture, which is detonated by an ADTS-583 impact fuze.

Thirty or more bomblets, or sub-munitions, fit into the RBK-250-275 cluster bombs and the RBK 500 can carry 75. The PTAB 2.5M is able to penetrate up to 120 millimeters of armor. The Soviets originally designed the PTAB 2.5M to be dropped on lines of Allied tanks steadily advancing toward the Iron Curtain countries. On Dec 12, while many were fretting or making jokes about the Mayan Apocalypse, Syrian military aircraft released RBK 250s on the civilian population of Marea, near Aleppo. For a few civilians from Marea, the world did end.

PTAB 2.5 bomblets piled in a munitions dump in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2002. Dozens of countries, though not Syria, Russia or the U.S., are signatories to the Convention on Cluster Weapons, which bars their use. Image Source: John Rodsted, courtesy of the Cluster Munition Coalition

 

 

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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