US military completes test-dropping leaflet bombs using B-52 bombers

July 27, 2017 12:57 pm

A frame from a video shows the PDU-5/B leaflet bomb activating and dispersing the leaflets. ( Air Force image)

The US says it has successfully test-dropped a number of leaflet bombs, capable of delivering thousands of leaflets to people located in a target area.
The US Air Force’s 419th Flight Test Squadron recently dropped eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range and eight more over the Precision Impact Range Area on Edwards Air Force Base, the USAF website reported Wednesday.
The test was aimed at determining the B-52 Stratofortress bombers’ ability to drop the bomb from its external hardpoints.
“We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam,” said Kevin Thorn, a 419th FLTS B-52 Stratofortress air vehicle manager. “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.”

A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron is loaded with eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs underneath the left wing June 21, 2017. (US Air Force photo)

Capable of delivering about 60,000 leaflets, the bombs are variants of an older cluster bomb unit that use leaflets as fillers, instead of smaller bombs.
Although the bombs have been successfully dropped from helicopters and fighter jets before, the USAF wants to see if it can use them on their strategic bombers as well.
“The PDU-5/B is just another tool that the B-52 uses in its vast and reliable tool box,” said Earl Johnson, the B-52 PDU-5/B project manager. “Without the capability to carry PDU-5s on the B-52 aircraft, the impending shortfall on leaflet dispersal capability will jeopardize Air Force Central Command information operations.”
Future tests of the weapon would focus on releasing the bomb from the B-52’s internal weapons bay.
The leaflets are primarily used for propaganda purposes and often carry messages aimed at making division between the enemy forces. They are also used to counter or disseminate disinformation and even encourage enemy forces to surrender.
The US military says it also uses leaflets to inform civilians from upcoming airstrikes or battles in an area.
In late May, American aircraft dropped leaflets on Syrian government’s forces, warning them against advancing further towards the town of al-Tanf.
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