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B-52’s special delivery

Photo: USAF


The 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, is looking to see if B-52H Stratofortress bombers can help with psychological operations (Psyops) to communicate with the local populations in conflict zones by distributing leaflets. Leaflet drops have proven extremely effective in conveying messages to reach a wide area.

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 at Edwards. ‘We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam,’ said Kevin Thorn, 419th FLTS B-52 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.’

The PDU-5/B is a new-use or 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. The designator changes depending on the type of filler used in the bomb, said Thorn. Having leaflets as a filler designates the bomb as a PDU-5/B.

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.

PDU-5/B testing on the B-52 is complete for now.  The program is forecasted to return at a future date to test PDU-5/B releases from the B-52’s internal weapons bay.

U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress (Tail Number 60-0036) conducting flight tests on a series of PDU-5 leaflet dispenser units developed from CBU-100 cluster bombs. Lt Col Miles Middleton was pilot. Maj Strafaccia, co-pilot. USAF photo by Christopher Okula

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