Cluster munition

A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller submunitions. Commonly, this is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill personnel and destroy vehicles. Other cluster munitions are designed to destroy runways or electric power transmission lines, disperse chemical or biological weapons, or to scatter land mines. Some submunition-based weapons can disperse non-munitions, such as leaflets.

Because cluster bombs release many small bomblets over a wide area, they pose risks to civilians both during attacks and afterwards. Unexploded bomblets can kill or maim civilians and/or unintended targets long after a conflict has ended, and are costly to locate and remove.

Cluster munitions are prohibited for those nations that ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions, adopted in Dublin, Ireland in May 2008. The Convention entered into force and became binding international law upon ratifying states on 1 August 2010, six months after being ratified by 30 states. As of 1 April 2018, a total of 120 states have joined the Convention, as 103 States parties and 17 Signatories.

The first cluster bomb used operationally was the German SD-2 or Sprengbombe Dickwandig 2 kg, commonly referred to as the Butterfly Bomb. It was used in World War II to attack both civilian and military targets. The technology was developed independently by the United States, Russia and Italy (see Thermos Bomb). The US used the 20-lb M41 fragmentation bomb wired together in clusters of 6 or 25 with highly sensitive or proximity fuzes.

From the 1970s to the 1990s cluster bombs became standard air-dropped munitions for many nations, in a wide variety of types. They have been produced by 34 countries and used in at least 23.

Artillery shells that employ similar principles have existed for decades. They are typically referred to as ICM (Improved Conventional Munitions) shells. The US military slang terms for them are "firecracker" or "popcorn" shells, for the many small explosions they cause in the target area.

This page was last edited on 15 May 2018, at 13:58.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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