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  1. #1
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    BLU-97/B Combined Effects Bomblet & the CBU-87/B Combined Effects Munition program

    Hello all, I'm looking for information on the BLU-97/B Combined Effects Bomblet as well as the larger CBU-87/B Combined Effects Munition program, and I would love to tap into the collective memory and knowledge of the group here.

    1. Does anyone here have first-hand knowledge of the program's origins?

    From what I can gather, it appears that work on the program started around May 1974. I'd love to talk to anyone who was working munitions development at Hill AFB and Eglin AFB around that time who might know something about it. It seems like the USAF built it as a one-size-fits-all alternative to all the different CBU systems it had in Vietnam, and I was guessing there might've been a study analyzing the performance of existing systems in Southeast Asia, identifying the pros and cons of those different systems, and outlining what features a next-generation submunition should have. I'd really like to know too if any particular individual was responsible for pushing the CEM program through from design to development.

    2. Does anyone know any of the original engineers on the CEM program from Aerojet Ordnance in Downey, Calif.?

    I know the names of some of those folks, but they've passed away in recent years. I'm hoping to find others who might still be alive.

    3. Does anyone here know how the BLU-97/B got approved for use without having an RSP?

    I understand that there's an RSP now, but there sure wasn't one when I went through EOD school in 2003. It was the only modern weapon our instructors told us about that had no RSP. I'm wondering if that was an accident of the design process, or an intended feature.

    4. Does anyone here have any stories about dealing with BLU-97 accidents or incidents?

    If so, I'd really like to hear them.

    Many thanks for reading, and my thanks in advance to anyone who responds!

  2. #2
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    tHERE WAS ONE AT THE KANSAS AMMO PLANT AROUND 94. THEY WERE DOWN LOADING THE CLUSTER FOR SOME REASON AND A COUPLE BOMBLETS SOME HOW EJECTED AND FUNCTION. NOT SURE IF IT WAS THE 61st, 74th OR THE 63rd THAT RESPONDED
    any live or dug ordnance shown in my posts was dealt with by EOD personell

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.ismay View Post
    Hello all, I'm looking for information on the BLU-97/B

    3. Does anyone here know how the BLU-97/B got approved for use without having an RSP?

    I understand that there's an RSP now, but there sure wasn't one when I went through EOD school in 2003. It was the only modern weapon our instructors told us about that had no RSP. I'm wondering if that was an accident of the design process, or an intended feature.
    My knowledge is of course dated, as I was in Class 77S, but I didn't think any of the bomblets, submunitions or even 40mm grenades had an actual RSP, unless you count "BIP" as an RSP.

    I believe that actually discussing EOD procedures are discouraged by the "rules" of BOCN.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taber10 View Post
    My knowledge is of course dated, as I was in Class 77S, but I didn't think any of the bomblets, submunitions or even 40mm grenades had an actual RSP, unless you count "BIP" as an RSP.

    I believe that actually discussing EOD procedures are discouraged by the "rules" of BOCN.

    Taber is correct on both counts. A couple things to keep in mind; first, when you went through EOD school the direction had changed and the primary focus of EOD was not on ordnance. It remained that way for nearly 15 years and is generally considered a period of decline for the US program, both in ordnance expertise and overall management of the field. Your schoolhouse instructors during that period were both constrained by this and largely a product of it. They were not brought into the schoolhouse for their level of expertise or knowledge of history, it was an assignment out of the field, or done with the supplementation of contractors hired to free more bodies for the field. Not all of the stories that they told may have been based in factual reports or first hand experience.

    The first live drops of the BLU-97 were done on WSMR in 1985. Honeywell was the contractor in charge, the loaded dispensers were shipped from their facility in MN to Holloman AFB, the buildup point for most air missions at WSMR. The first two drops were intended to be a significant PR event for Honeywell, but were slightly marred by the fact that the test pilot neglected to arm the dispensers prior to release. The majority of the submunitions were pounded into the ground, however some ricocheted, armed on the bounce, and either detonated or dudded out due to too little air time before impact. Not their finest hour, but that is the life of R&D.

    I have one of the 97s from the first drop. The body was ripped apart on impact. The majority of the HE broke out, the fuze was blown in place during cleanup. I've attached a photo, but this is cropped from a shelf shot and is not the best picture.

    RSP was rarely a consideration during development or fielding. Generally we would see Indianhead Tech Center folks many months to years after acceptance, coming in to test RSPs on already adopted pieces of ordnance. Years later, in 1992 I worked an incident in Socorro, NM on LOT #001 of the TOW2B, the first missiles on the Aerojet assembly line for delivery. One had somehow armed on the assembly line, when it reached the final stage and they were running computer diagnostics checks it was found to be armed and seeking its target. While this is a much more complex piece than the BLU-97 there still was no RSP even proposed for the missile at that time. As TL on the responding EOD team (41st EOD) we were more frustrated by HQ fears due to the lack of RSP (FORSCOM out of GA) than by anything on the ground. Indianhead's speed (or lack) of RSP development was, at least back in the day, not a consideration or speedbump for ordnance development or procurement.

    DSC_6080 (2).JPG
    All dug or live ordnance shown in my posts is under EOD control and has been or will be dealt with accordingly by EOD personnel

  5. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to US-Subs For This Useful Post:

    1989rjb (12th January 2018), GTR003121 (1st September 2018), john.ismay (14th January 2018), ordnance (12th January 2018), peteblight (12th January 2018), pzgr40 (12th January 2018), Spaceinvader (12th January 2018), Weasel (12th January 2018)

 

 

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