China has revealed an airborne munitions dispenser, likely to be equipped on J-16 jets, JH-7 fighter bomber and H-6 bomber, that can release hundreds of submunitions capable of causing destruction in large facilities such as airfields.
“A typical munitions dispenser like this can disable an airfield for an extended period with only one shot, because the sheer number of submunitions means the whole runway will be destroyed. It is also possible that some of the submunitions will be mines, which will make attempts to repair the runway very risky,” a Chinese military expert was quoted as saying by semi-official Global Times on Sunday.
This will provide crucial battle opportunities, because it means the enemy would not be able to make any warplane sortie, and the user of the dispenser can seize air superiority and gain tactical and even strategic advantages, the expert said.
The weapon, a hybrid that lies between an air-to-ground missile and a guided bomb, weighs 500kg. It has been classified as a guided glide dispenser bomb. While it looks like a missile, it has a square cross-section to hold more submunitions. This design can also reduce the weapon's radar cross-section enhancing its stealth capability. When dropped, the dispenser can open its wings, providing extra lift force and controllability, besides a range of over 60km, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.
“Each dispenser can carry 240 submunitions of six types, which when released will cover more than 6,000 sqm,” a senior NORINCO official was quoted as saying by the report.
When attacking groups of tanks and armored vehicles, the dispenser can use anti-tank submunitions that can penetrate tanks' armor from the top, or it can equip regional lockdown submunitions when attacking large facilities.