40% failure rate of cluster munitions in Israels recent war

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#1
Fellow arrse'rs

a civi chum and I were arguing about the recent use of cluster bombs in Israel's recent border excursion. Personally I'm a big fan of something that kills the enemy before I have to and don't go in for this 'lets ban something' peace corps crap.

Anyway, he emailed me this BBC webpage as his side of the argument:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5382192.stm - please have a quick read.

Now from the hip, I have penned the following reply, it uses my very limited knowledge of drop shorts and their kit coupled with my almost extreme ignorance on cluster bombs and the gulf wars from any practical standpoint.

Can you please have a read and let me know where I've gone wrong, and obviously feel free to post any abuse and take the subject off topic as you feel you should:

My reply

The article is, of course, typical left wing anti Israeli propaganda.

For a start, hundreds is an exaggeration, in that 0 - 999 is a big difference.

A cluster bomb artillery shell is about the size of a normal shell and therefore, being no more than either 105 or 155mm in width and, in my experience, no more than 50cm long (with the front being tapered off) would contain a fraction of the number (you do the math) contained in a 250 / 500 lb bomb, again, maths dictates that if each cluster munitions weighs two pound then the maximum in each bomb is 125/250 (I believe I am getting this right though there is a change that 250/500 lb'er refers to the amount of explosive only), but then you have to remove the housing, the electronics and so forth so its a little smaller than 125/250 munitions.

MLRS (the Rocket thing) were not used in the recent 'war'.

ADD to that, 1 million unexploded citing a 40% failure indicates 2.5 million were fired/dropped, apparently 90% in the last 72 hours, that's a rate of 5 million pounds of munitions fired/dropped in 72 hours or another way of saying it is 1.66 million pounds of cluster per day.

That's something like 6700 x 250lb bombs.

Consider you can probably get 4 - 8 x 250 bombs on an F16, that's 833 missions (at x 8 ), given the Israeli's have about 100 F16's that's, 8 missions per day per plane.

Or to put it another way, 4 times the rate that aircraft flew in either of the gulf wars.

If you want to add artillery shells to the equation then fine but the numbers would be negligible. Normally, when talking about clusters with artillery, you are referring to star clusters which are night time illume - I am unaware of any cluster bomb shells but that's just because I don't think the British army has any.

No, I think I prefer to imagine the UN as a left wing anti-war society quoting figures some peace mission bird with glasses and a rich father that doesn't understand her to the BBC who'll report anything if vaguely attributable given a moment on a slack news day. The US reported a 14% - 23% (depends on munitions) failure rate in the first gulf war.
 
#2
Mr Happy,

Some of your assumptions are correct. However, I suspect that the majority of rounds fired were from 155 Bomblet Arty rnds. The UK does have these and used them extensively on TELIC 1. You can tell if an Arty shell has bomblets in as the yellow band denoting HE fill is replaced by a band of yellow diamonds. The Isralis certainly do possess these and I suspect that it is these that were used. They normally contain a variant of the US M-42 bomblet (the same as the one in the MRLS standard bomblet rocket). The UK munition has a fail safe mechanism (self distruct) which reduces failure rates considerably, although it is not perfect.

The numbers reffered to are grossly exaggerated and assume that all munitions had significant failure rates (normally associated with cresting of the ordnance (the rounds land on the rear slope of a hill without having time to arm), the target is on soft sand or under trees. As I have mentioned before in another thread there has been nowhere near enough time to survey the sites and therefore the numbers reffered to are simple arithmatic. on the part of someone in the UN.

As to the firing of the majority of these munitions during the last 3 days, the Israelis put a massive effort in the last few days and increased the forces moving into Lebbanon hugely. I suspect that the firing of all natures of ordnance went up as the Israelis tried to push Hezbollah out of as much of Southren Lebbanon before the inevitable ceasefire came into force. The Israelis may have found that bomblet rounds were very successfull at suppressing the enemy late on in the war. Counter battery fire (i.e firing at Hezbollah rocket positions) againt a fleeting target is best achieved using bomblet rounds.

I have no doubt that there is a significant contamination problem following the war (I am an EOD operator amongst other things), but some of the tree-huggers chest beating is exaggerated for political purposes and the conspiracy theories are pure c*ck.

Hope this helps

Regards

SF
 
#3
short-fuse said:
.........As to the firing of the majority of these munitions during the last 3 days, the Israelis put a massive effort in the last few days and increased the forces moving into Lebbanon hugely. I suspect that the firing of all natures of ordnance went up as the Israelis tried to push Hezbollah out of as much of Southren Lebbanon before the inevitable ceasefire came into force. The Israelis may have found that bomblet rounds were very successfull at suppressing the enemy late on in the war. Counter battery fire (i.e firing at Hezbollah rocket positions) againt a fleeting target is best achieved using bomblet rounds.

I have no doubt that there is a significant contamination problem following the war (I am an EOD operator amongst other things), but some of the tree-huggers chest beating is exaggerated for political purposes and the conspiracy theories are pure c*ck.

Hope this helps

Regards

SF
" I suspect......" "The israelis may have found......" ????

The only fact in the last bit of your post is "...there is a significant contamination problem..."

Add massive use of cluster bombs, known to create a clearance problem to a deliberate campaign of destruction of infrastructure and it is no wonder that a theory of "punishment" grows. Exactly what was that impact on Hezbollahs ability to fire rockets etc of the destruction of Lebanese oil tanks ??.

Extract from Amnesty International report ( OK, lefty tree huggers but...)

Amnesty International delegates in south Lebanon reported that in village after village the pattern was similar: the streets, especially main streets, were scarred with artillery craters along their length. In some cases cluster bomb impacts were identified. Houses were singled out for precision-guided missile attack and were destroyed, totally or partially, as a result. Business premises such as supermarkets or food stores and auto service stations and petrol stations were targeted, often with precision-guided munitions and artillery that started fires and destroyed their contents. With the electricity cut off and food and other supplies not coming into the villages, the destruction of supermarkets and petrol stations played a crucial role in forcing local residents to leave. The lack of fuel also stopped residents from getting water, as water pumps require electricity or fuel-fed generators.

Israeli government spokespeople have insisted that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was incidental or resulted from Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield". However, the pattern and scope of the attacks, as well as the number of civilian casualties and the amount of damage sustained, makes the justification ring hollow. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than "collateral damage
"
 
#4
Hmmm...

Who to believe Amnesty International(well meaning org., but hardly experts in the field of munitions), or an EOD tech who actually works on these devices.... Think I'm gonna have to say EOD Tech has More Credibilty here.
 
#5
saladin said:
The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than "collateral damage
NATO planes bombed bridges and power plants in Yugoslavia. It was also not a "collateral damage". So what? Something is OK for NATO but is forbidden for Israel?
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#6
Out of interest, how many bomblets can we squeeze into a 155mm shell?

Second question, I assume that all agree that the 40% failure / 1 million unexploded munitions is fantasy land?

Mr H
 
#7
Shell can carry between 30 and about 80 cluster devices depending on the type, and bombs between about 1000 and 2000 anti personell devices. Recent US experience indicates that they have suffered dud rates of around 25% so 40% does not seem unreasonable, espcially if one is getting rid of old stock on some one elses country as a final present. Also remeber that in EOD terms a dud is the same as a live one when clearing an area.

Whilst I will happily agree that in the battlefield cluster weapons have a good use as area denial weapons, their use in and around civilian population centres when a cease fire has been agreed can only be seen as an attack on the civilian population.

Peter
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#8
Maxi77 agreed but some questions from the ignorant.

I thought a cluster munition weight 2lb's. That would mean that 1-2,000 AP devices would come from 2-4,000lb'er bombs right?

Which doesn't work out the way I thought it would.

Ditto with the arty, if you have 30-80 devices in a shell, I presume, 105 or 155 does that mean that the munitions are (a) not 2lbs each and/or (b) not as big as I imagine them to be (sort of coke can sized).

Mr H
 
#9
Never had anything to do with any "cluster" munitions other than the air-dropped variety, which are indeed approximately Coke can sized (well, in some cases), but the type that are delivered by artillery must clearly be considerably smaller.
 
#10
Mr Happy said:
Out of interest, how many bomblets can we squeeze into a 155mm shell?
Too few I suppose. So for this reasons 155mm shells are not typical carriers for the bomblets. There are specially designed bombs. For example CBU-58 with 650 submunitions.

So 1500 such bomns contain about a million of bomblets. I hope you agree that IAF is able to drop 1500 bombs (and even much more).

Mr Happy said:
Second question, I assume that all agree that the 40% failure / 1 million unexploded munitions is fantasy land?
Yes, 40% of unexploded munitions is not right estimate. 6% is more realistic number. So to produce 1 million of unexpoled bomblets Israel should drop no less than 20,000-25,000 of cluster bombs that is too many (even for IAF).

Thus I agree with you that a number of unexploded bomblets is less than 1 million. Likely it is about 100,000. Anyway, it is a huge number and lives of hundreds (if not thousands) of Lebanese citizens are under mortal threat.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#11
KGB_resident said:
So 1500 such bomns contain about a million of bomblets. I hope you agree that IAF is able to drop 1500 bombs (and even much more).
1500 bombs, say 8 bombs per F16 = 15 missions dropping all 8 = 5 missions per day in the final 3 days.

Seems a bit steep to me personally.

I'm sure an RAF wag could quote that the only time 5 sorties a day were carried out were in the Battle of Britain.. Unless I'm uber mistaken.

No arguments on the humanitarian side though.
 
#12
Mr Happy said:
Maxi77 agreed but some questions from the ignorant.

I thought a cluster munition weight 2lb's. That would mean that 1-2,000 AP devices would come from 2-4,000lb'er bombs right?

Which doesn't work out the way I thought it would.

Ditto with the arty, if you have 30-80 devices in a shell, I presume, 105 or 155 does that mean that the munitions are (a) not 2lbs each and/or (b) not as big as I imagine them to be (sort of coke can sized).

Mr H
There are a wide range of types of sub munitions for cluster weapons, ranging from small anti personel types to larger anti tank ones.

My figures were based on data from a few places like FAS (Federation of American Scientists) which provide quite good data from published sources.

For the shells I was using 155 data, clearly 105 would be less and I am not sure if they do use cluster units in 105.

Some cluster bombs only have 3 sub munitions but these are FAE weapons.

Peter
 
#13
KGB_resident said:
Mr Happy said:
Out of interest, how many bomblets can we squeeze into a 155mm shell?
Too few I suppose. So for this reasons 155mm shells are not typical carriers for the bomblets. There are specially designed bombs. For example CBU-58 with 650 submunitions.

So 1500 such bomns contain about a million of bomblets. I hope you agree that IAF is able to drop 1500 bombs (and even much more).

Mr Happy said:
Second question, I assume that all agree that the 40% failure / 1 million unexploded munitions is fantasy land?
Yes, 40% of unexploded munitions is not right estimate. 6% is more realistic number. So to produce 1 million of unexpoled bomblets Israel should drop no less than 20,000-25,000 of cluster bombs that is too many (even for IAF).

Thus I agree with you that a number of unexploded bomblets is less than 1 million. Likely it is about 100,000. Anyway, it is a huge number and lives of hundreds (if not thousands) of Lebanese citizens are under mortal threat.
Considering the US forces have admitted to 23% in Iraqi Freedom 6% is not perhaps that reliable a figure. The design aim was 6% and 12% expected and as I say 23% achieved.

If the units used by the Israelis was old stock then 40% could be not unrteasonable.

Peter
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#14
If the units used by the Israelis was old stock then 40% could be not unrteasonable.

Peter
According to DOD figures on the www 14 - 23% was achieved in GW1 depending on type, as that was 15 years ago AND IN THE DESERT I would not expect that figure to go higher in Lebanon. Though the vagueries of IAF munition storage may play a part - remember CEM are supposed to kill the targets you drop them on. The whole 40% (crap) failure figure would not really be an effective employment of the weapon. And before they (the IAF) decided to employ this tactic they would have to know they were going to get such bad results, which I doubt they;d have known they were getting 40% fail rate (if they were etc...).
 
#15
Mr Happy said:
KGB_resident said:
So 1500 such bomns contain about a million of bomblets. I hope you agree that IAF is able to drop 1500 bombs (and even much more).
1500 bombs, say 8 bombs per F16 = 15 missions dropping all 8 = 5 missions per day in the final 3 days.

Seems a bit steep to me personally.

I'm sure an RAF wag could quote that the only time 5 sorties a day were carried out were in the Battle of Britain.. Unless I'm uber mistaken.

No arguments on the humanitarian side though.
Your calculations show that only a 12-15 of F-16s is enough to drop a million of bomblets during 3 day. But cluster bombs were being used by Israel not only last 3 days of the war. And IAF has not dozens but hundreds of F-16s.

Btw, a small Russian regiment is on its way to Lebanon. Their mission is a fast rebuilding of bridges. Russian government sent uniquie 'mobile bridges' to Lebanon (with maximum length up to 100 meters) that can be established in few days. There are sappers in the regiment with trained dogs (many are Labradors btw). Dogs are the best anti-bomblets measure, though some poor enimals could be killed.

I believe that Lebanese soil will be cleared from bomblets. It is rather a question of time.

Has Israel right to use cluster bombs? It has. Now it is not a banned weapon. Though, I doubt that it was a reasonable step. Ruther unwise one.
 
#16
The standard US design bomblet shell carries 88 bomblets. However, the Israelis use their own design with larger bomblets (more explosive in each), IIRC its 64 bomblets per shell but that may be the base bleed (ie longer range), the BB version is in UK stocks (as are the older US design from the European production line in NL). Didn't see anything to suggest Israel was using 105mm or 203mm, but the former holds about 20 bomblet and the latter something like 194 of the US pattern.

The US bomblets, similar to those used with MLRS do not have any self-destruct (new ones do) and the blind rate is generally quoted at 7-10%. The Israeli ones do have it and are supposed to have a blind rate under 1%. If the claimed blind rate is right then either the Israelis were using old ammo stocks without SD or the SD had seriously deteriorated in storage (I'm assuming there's no cunning way of switching off the SD) or the SD is not performing to spec. No doubt this question is being asked in MoD.

Air delivered bomblets, now that takes me back, skipping around the shrubbery in the funny country with those bright yellow little chaps stuck in the foliage. These are much bigger than those delivered by arty, cricket ball size with a white plastic circular fin on top sticks in my mind.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#17
KGB_resident said:
Your calculations show that only a 12-15 of F-16s is enough to drop a million of bomblets during 3 day. But cluster bombs were being used by Israel not only last 3 days of the war. And IAF has not dozens but hundreds of F-16s.
Sorry KGB, my maths are addled, to reconfirm.

Assuming an F16 can carry 8 bombs (or 5200 bomblets) then it would take 480 F16 missions to drop 2.5m bomblets to create 1m unexploded (assuming 40%).

As the IAF has purchased 102 x F16's and assuming they all fly (which of course they aren't but we should let that lie for now) (and of course assuming they were all flying pure CEM missions) then that is roughly 4.8 missions per F16, which is 2 a day (assuming 100% in 3 days when in fact it was 90% but in the game of rough estimates thats fine). This leaves you correct and me wrong.

The only thing to work out now is (a) did the IAF have the required 4000 cluster bombs of the type suggested and was there a 40% failure rate. My argument, to remind folk of the point, was to draw attention to the bollocks of 40% failure and the bollocks of 1,000,000 undetonated weapons scattered across southern Lebanon.

KGB_resident said:
Btw, a small Russian regiment is on its way to Lebanon. Their mission is a fast rebuilding of bridges. Russian government sent uniquie 'mobile bridges' to Lebanon (with maximum length up to 100 meters) that can be established in few days. There are sappers in the regiment with trained dogs (many are Labradors btw). Dogs are the best anti-bomblets measure, though some poor enimals could be killed.
I know the kit well, I hope your troops have a safe time.

KGB_resident said:
I believe that Lebanese soil will be cleared from bomblets. It is rather a question of time.

Has Israel right to use cluster bombs? It has. Now it is not a banned weapon. Though, I doubt that it was a reasonable step. Ruther unwise one.
In my limited knowledge of Israels wars (a couple of books) Israel has never been militarily wise, ruthless maybe, lucky and brave certainly but not wise.
 
#18
Happy,

Your answer should be framed according to what you are actually trying to argue. From your posts above, I cannot ascertain what that is. For example: are you trying to argue that BBC reporting is cr@p, UN mine clearing team calculations are cr@p or that Israel was justified in using large quantities of cluster munitions?

Why do I ask this? Well, if your argument is either to counter the BBC or UN figures, then you are on the right track. But all information is speculative and unproveable and thus will never provide a conclusive result to your discussion. On the otherhand, if you are trying to argue that Israel was 'justified' in using large quantities of these weopans - and that having so many duds left behind is just regrettable - then you are sadly barking up the wrong tree.

How does quibbling over whether it was a 30% or 40% failure rate advance your argument? Let me put it another way. If the 'true' data is that there are only 750,000 dud bomlets strewn across the countryside, representing a failure rate of 30%, and that the majority were dropped in the last week - not the last 3 days, does Israel look any better.

40% failure is not impossible, but probably the upper end of a rudimentary guestimate. 1,000,000 is also not impossible, and again probably at the upper end of a rudimentary guestimate. Does it really matter when they were dropped?
 
#19
merkator said:
Happy,

Your answer should be framed according to what you are actually trying to argue. From your posts above, I cannot ascertain what that is. For example: are you trying to argue that BBC reporting is cr@p, UN mine clearing team calculations are cr@p or that Israel was justified in using large quantities of cluster munitions?

Why do I ask this? Well, if your argument is either to counter the BBC or UN figures, then you are on the right track. But all information is speculative and unproveable and thus will never provide a conclusive result to your discussion. On the otherhand, if you are trying to argue that Israel was 'justified' in using large quantities of these weopans - and that having so many duds left behind is just regrettable - then you are sadly barking up the wrong tree.

How does quibbling over whether it was a 30% or 40% failure rate advance your argument? Let me put it another way. If the 'true' data is that there are only 750,000 dud bomlets strewn across the countryside, representing a failure rate of 30%, and that the majority were dropped in the last week - not the last 3 days, does Israel look any better.

40% failure is not impossible, but probably the upper end of a rudimentary guestimate. 1,000,000 is also not impossible, and again probably at the upper end of a rudimentary guestimate. Does it really matter when they were dropped?
So are You refuting Short Fuses posts on this and other threads when He said that the organisations concerned could not possibly have properly examined the combat area before releasing their reports
 
#20
Sven said:
So are You refuting Short Fuses posts on this and other threads when He said that the organisations concerned could not possibly have properly examined the combat area before releasing their reports
What an absurd question!!!!

As an ex UK Armed Forces EOD bod myself, I agree wholeheartedly with what Short Fuse wrote. I have only read his post in this thread, and see no contradiction whatsoever.

Short Fuse said:
As I have mentioned before in another thread there has been nowhere near enough time to survey the sites and therefore the numbers reffered to are simple arithmatic. on the part of someone in the UN.
OF COURSE they are "simple arithmatic". And what did I write, "a rudimentary guestimate." If you didn't realise this means the same thing, then understand now that's what I mean it to mean!
 

Similar threads


Latest Threads

Top