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Subject: Failed Cluster Bomblets
Strick    10/6/2006 11:25:41 AM
This may not be the right place to ask the question, but I'm confused about the UN claim that there are 650,000 Isreali bomlets from cluster bombs littering Lebanon thought you might be able to help. See this link: How is that possible? Do the math. It's claimed else where that most of the bomblets were delivered by Israeli using 155 howitzer shells and most of those in the last three days of the war. I read that there are 63 bomblets in the larger of the two 155 shells Israel uses. Even there was a 100% failure rate on the shells, it would take over 10,000 delivered over three days to produce 650,000 bomblets. At the worst failure rate anyone predicts, 14% (versus 3-5% expected - or pick a number the results are similar), they'd have to have delivered over 73,000 shells. Even if someone claimed that instead of artillery shells, Israel shifted to rockets (say those ones they asked for and hadn't received from the US by the end of the war) it would take over 7,00 rockets (Israel asked for 1,300) to deliver that many failed bomblets, ignoring the fact that rockets have a lower failure rate than artillery. Over the last three days of the war. So why does this bother me? One historian I read said that the Red Army only delivered 5,000 artillery shells a day toward the end of WWII, and that was all artillery, including mortars and multiple launch rockets. How did Israel even come close that amount of shelling in this small a war? Why isn't all of south Lebanon totally destroyed if they did?
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flamingknives       10/6/2006 11:46:24 AM
Well, I can suggest that the article claims 1m unexploded munitions, delivered over the course of the war, with the majority delivered "in the last days of the war", which is somewhat different to 650000 over three days. I don't see any specific reference to method of delivery, so a proportion could have been air-dropped.

If they are old sub-munitions, then the dud-rate will be higher.

All these figures are subject to dramatic rounding, so 1m could mean as little as 500000.

It could be hyperbole, but I think that you are making unwarrented assumptions from the article.
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Strick       10/6/2006 12:15:29 PM

Ah, I've been thinking about this for weeks and didn't reference other sources that provide some of the assumptions.  I'll quote sources that tend to be most negative about this sort of thing:

"'What's shocking and completely immoral is this: 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occured in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution,' he (Jan Egeland, UN humanitarian chief) said." BBC
Israel used cluster munitions delivered by artillery projectiles, ground rockets, and aircraft bombs. It appears that 155mm artillery was used most extensively, followed by Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, with a small number of aerial cluster bombs.

Based on the submunition duds that have been encountered, Israel apparently used the M395 and M396 155mm artillery projectiles that it produces, and the M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles produced by the United States. The Israeli versions contain 63 and 49 M85 submunitions, respectively, that have a self-destruct device, with a reported failure rate of 1.3-2.3 percent, based on testing. The U.S. version contains 88 M42 and M46 submunitions with a reported failure rate of 3 to 14 percent.

Israel also used Multiple Launch Rocket Systems with M26 rockets, manufactured in the United States. Each MLRS can fire up to 12 rockets at once, and each rocket contains 644 M77 submunitions. A typical volley of six rockets would release 3,864 submunitions over an area with a one kilometer radius. The M77 submunition has a reported failure rate of 5 to 23 percent. U.S. use of M26 rockets in Iraq in 2003 caused hundreds of civilian casualties.

Israel also used CBU-58B cluster bombs supplied by the United States. Each CBU-58B contains 650 BLU-63 bomblets. These were developed in the early 1960s. Human Rights Watch researchers saw a CBU-58B canister in Nabatiyah stamped with a load date of September 1973. They saw two CBU-58B "catastrophic" failures where the weapon completely failed to function and none of the bomblets were dispersed or exploded. The U.S. last used this cluster bomb in the 1991 Gulf War and no longer has it in its inventory. End Quote
HRW is restrained compared to some reports.
Do the math and play with the numbers. Assume some ratio where 155's are the most used weapon.  I found it hard to even support 100,000 unexploded submunitions, but I'm not sure I'm not missing something.
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neutralizer       10/7/2006 3:43:34 AM
Another factor, I think, is that the Israeli design bomblets have a self-destruct mechanism whereas the US ones don't, at least for arty not sure about the BLUs.  This means the Israeli failure rate should be about an order of magnitude less.  Its not too clear what effect terrain has on bomblet functioing.  I've seen all sorts of early design BLUs lodged in bushes, etc.
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