Testers from the 419th Flight Test Squadron are trialling B-52 Stratofortress bombers in the leaflet dropping role.
In military operations, leaflets with messages are often dropped from aircraft in order to reach a wide area.
According to the US Air Force:
“An important part of U.S. military operations overseas is communicating with the local population. This can be done in a number of ways including something as simple as distributing leaflets.
The squadron recently completed two successful sorties where a B-52 released 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.”
Kevin Thorn, a 419th FLTS B-52 Stratofortress air vehicle manager said:
“We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external Heavy Stores Adapter Beamm.
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.”
The PDU-5/B is a variant of an older Cluster Bomb Unit. The original designation for the weapon was the MK-20 Rockeye II, SUU-76B/B, and/or CBU-99/100. According to the US Air Force, PDU-5/B canisters can deliver about 60,000 leaflets and were deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom before any munitions began hitting targets in Baghdad.
Earl Johnson, the B-52 PDU-5/B project manager said:
“The PDU-5/B is just another tool that the B-52 uses in its vast and reliable tool box.
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 programme will next test PDU-5/B releases from the B-52’s internal weapons bay.