"Gentle impulsion
shakes me makes me lighter
Feather's on my breath
Teardrop on the fire
Feather's on my breath
Nine night of matter
Black flowers blossom
feather's on my breath..."
-Liz Fraser and Massive Attack, Teardrop (from Mezzanine)

Gentle Impulsion
shakes me makes me lighter

The CBU-97/CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a maestro mother spider of armor death. Ovoid and elongated, strakes and fins akimbo. Ugly from afar, and uglier up close, it is an ungainly and awkward duckling yearning to swan. It will come upon you in the night or day, through cloud or sun, from heights unimagined or from the nap of the earth. It wants only one thing, and that thing clanks across the folds of mother earth on endless steel and rubber skeins with all the rumbling, hot impatient fury of the Engineered. It will make a barely-felt thunk as it separates from the hot skin of its parent and blissfully noses over into the cool rush of air. As Liz says, lighter, the intruder will wheel away, or stoop behind the cover of the ground, turning, burning, blast and gone. All that's left will be the child, unfettered, peacefully, lazily making for the earth.

The CBU-97 is a 1,000-pound air-dropped weapon designed to degrade, halt and destroy advancing armor columns. It is representative of the U.S. military's stated aim of destroying an enemy's armored vehicles during a Major Regional Contingency, of which Iraq is one. In order to provide breathing time for U.S. forces, air force assets would deliver the CBU-97 or its slightly smarter cousin against enemy armor forces advancing towards the FEBA. It is dropped from a range of aircraft, including the F-15, F-18, B-1, B-2, B-52, F-16 and A-10. It can be deployed from a range of altitudes from 200 up through 20,000 feet, although at higher altitudes the WCMD tailkit is almost a requirement.

Feather's on my breath

Dropping, turning, faster and faster. Sepia tones of soil beneath, crisp and glowing blue above. Thickening of the air happens meter by meter, the weapon buoyed by the caress of breeze and breath of wind.

After release, or when it reaches a low enough altitude, the SUU-66/B Tactical Munitions Dispenser which makes up the body of the SFW opens and dispenses ten BLU-108/B submunitions. These are cylindrical, and are dispensed across a pattern in order to maximize weapon coverage. The individual BLU-108/B's deploy parachutes in order to stabilize their descent and remain upright.

Teardrop on the fire
Feather's on my breath
Nine night of matter

The seedpods fall, swaying, twisting, through a sky filled with steel and fire. The silk of their drogues shines white in shocking flashes through smoke and dust; occasionally, a cheery wink of sun off metal as they fall. Eyes turned downwards now, singing a shortwave song of range and speed, they'll continue to drop, until their own upturned echos buzz inside their little silicate heads and then they'll bring the noise-

At a preset height, the BLU-108/B submunitions will (cued by a radar altimeter) fire rockets offset downward. This quick burst will push the submunition upward and induce a rapid spinning motion; at the height of its 'jump' it will release the clamps that hold four warheads to its sides. These warheads, roughly the shape of hockey pucks but larger, will fly outwards from the dispenser on paths ninety degrees apart; due to their release mechanism, they will 'wobble' slightly as they themselves spin outward. They are released in a flat attitude save for the slight wobble. As they move outwards, sensors in the bottom will begin to search for the tell-tale signature of a tracked armored vehicle. The wobble will serve to move the sensor in a wide circle across the ground, precessing along the warhead's track. If it spots a likely target, it will wait until the next wobble to confirm the sighting and perform any discrimination functions. At the next rotation past, the warhead will fire.

Black flowers blossom

Instant blazing thunderclap - the energies loosed, the plasma shaped, the parabola aimed, the warhead will give itself over to its function, eyes fixed on the target until the flame immolates the fragile silicon and GaAs of the sensor. A jet of tantalum, molten and massive, streaks downward to touch the thinner topside armor of the target, brushing it aside with the haste of one on a date with six feet under; there is a momentary silence as the tank drinks in the light, then-

The warhead is a self-forging type; upon detonation, a parabolic cavity lined with metals will be explosively compressed. The gases and shock will push the metal as a narrow cylindrical jet out the lower face of the warhead, in the direction that the sensor is pointed, so as to strike the target vehicle from above. The forty warheads in each CBU-97 are each capable of destroying a main battle tank, armored personnel carrier, self-propelled artillery piece, or other tracked vehicle. In the event a warhead does not contact a satisfactory target during its flight, it will be detonated by a 'salvage fuse' upon contact with the ground. By that time, it may have been tipped sideways by its impact, and any vehicle in the direction of the warhead jet will sustain damage.

feather's on my breath...

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