Vladimir Lepin, head of Russia’s Techmash Corporation, disclosed on 8 January that NPO Bazalt company, a subsidiary of Techmash, is close to accomplishing state evaluations of a new aerial bomb, designated ‘Drel’. “After successful completion of the state tests in 2018, this product is planned to be introduced into the [Russian] inventory,” said Lepin.
Drel (drill) is a codename for research and development (R&D) programme for the PBK-500U gliding cluster bomb (Planiruyushchaya Bombovaya Kasseta, 500 kg/1,102 lb, unified), a Russian counterpart to the US Joint Standoff Munition (JSOW). The bomb has a large wing and control surfaces enabling it to glide a distance of over 30 km (16 n miles) when dropped from high altitude. It is controlled by inertial navigation with correction by a satellite positioning receiver. NPO Bazalt has considered equipping the bomb with a pulsejet engine to further increase the range, particularly when dropped from low altitude.
The PBK-500U cluster bomb can be filled with various charges. The initial production version is filled with small-size guided anti-tank munitions, said Lepin. The bomb contains 15 SPBE-K charges (Samopritselivayushchiysia Protivotankovyi Boevoi Element, self-guided anti-tank combat element, K is for Kombinirovannyi, combined), each weighing 15 kg (33 lb). The charge has a combined guidance with twin-band (3-5 µm and 8-14 µm) infrared seeker and a millimetre-wavelength radar seeker; the radar channel has an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system. After detecting a tank, the 1 kg (2.2 lb) warhead is launched from an altitude of around 150 m (492 ft) with a speed of 3,000 m/s (9,842 ft per second) enabling penetration of 100 mm (3.9 in) of armour.
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