The US Air Force's (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress jet-powered strategic bomber has successfully dropped PDU-5/B leaflet bombs from the external heavy stores adapter beam.
During two successful sorties conducted by the USAF’s 419th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS), the bomber dropped a total of 16 bombs over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range and Precision Impact Range Area on Edwards Air Force Base, California, US.
The Stratofortress air vehicle manager Kevin Thorn said: “We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external heavy stores adapter beam.
“We are ensuring that the bombs do not contact the aircraft, and/or each other, creating an unsafe condition. Additionally, we are tracking the reliability of the bomb functioning.”
According to the USAF, the PDU-5/B is a new-use or variant of an older Cluster Bomb Unit, and original designation for the weapon was the MK-20 Rockeye II, SUU-76B/B, and/or CBU-99/100.
The PDU-5/B canisters are capable of delivering more than 60,000 leaflets.
The dispenser bomb can be dropped from helicopters and fighter jets, and now the 419th FTS is testing if the B-52 fleet can be used as well.
B-52 PDU-5/B project manager Earl Johnson said: “The PDU-5/B is just another tool that the B-52 uses in its vast and reliable toolbox.
“Without the capability to carry PDU-5s on the B-52 aircraft, the impending shortfall on leaflet dispersal capability will jeopardise Air Force Central Command information operations.”
The USAF also plans to test PDU-5/B releases from the B-52’s internal weapons bay in the future.
Image: A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron flies with eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs connected to an external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam. Photo: courtesy of the USAF.