Background Briefing

Survey of Cluster Munitions Produced and Stockpiled

Survey of Cluster Munitions Produced and Stockpiled

Briefing Paper Prepared for the ICRC Experts Meeting on Cluster Munitions

Montreux, Switzerland

April 2007

This presentation is an introduction to the wide variety of cluster munitions currently available. The functional characteristics of these munitions as well as estimates of the numbers in current stockpiles are included in the presentation.


  • The information contained herein reflects the best publicly available information known to Human Rights Watch.

  • It does not include munitions that contain biological, chaff, carbon fiber, chemical, electronic, illuminant, incendiary, kinetic rod, landmine, nuclear, obscurant, or propaganda submunitions.

  • The information in this briefing paper is fragmentary and likely incomplete, particularly regarding non-Western weapon systems. For example, 122mm BM-21 Grad multiple launch rockets.1

  • Global Overview of Production and Stockpiling

  • A total of 34 states are known to have produced over 210 different types of air-dropped, surface-launched, or submarine-launched cluster munitionsincluding projectiles, bombs, rockets, missiles, and dispensers.

  • Cluster munitions are stockpiled by at least 75 states and have been used in at least 24 countries and disputed territories.2

  • At least 13 states have transferred over 50 types of cluster munitions to at least 60 other states as well as non-state armed groups (NSAG).

  • Focus of this presentation on three categories:

    — Impact and time delay fuzed bomblets

    — Dual purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM)

    — Sensor fuzed weapons

  • Magnitude of Stockpiles

  • Existing cluster munitions contain billions of individual explosive submunitions.

  • Reported active US stockpiles in 2005 contained nearly 730 million submunitions; stockpiles in Russia and China likely to be comparable in scale.

    — Compared to 1994 totals, this is a 20-30 percent reduction in US stockpiles.

    · At least 220 million submunitions contained in five types of artillery projectiles were removed from service since 1994; at least 8 million were exported.3

    · A total of 9,621 tons of cluster munitions are being destroyed in fiscal years 2006 and 2007 at a cost of USD$16.2 million.4

    — Other countries experiencing similar situations as Cold War stockpiles age and become unsafe to use.

  • An example of stockpile ratios, based on US and German stockpiles.

    — 93 percent are DPICM.

    — 6 percent are impact or time delay fuzed bomblets.

    — Less than 1 percent are sensor fuzed weapons.

    — Other NATO and Western countries may have similar percentages but for other countries there is no reliable public information.

  • Most stockpiles of cluster munitions would consist of millions to tens of millions of submunitions.

  • Examples of Proliferation

  • The US sold 7,087 early-generation cluster bombs (CBU-52, CBU-58, CBU-71), containing 4 million submunitions, to Greece, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Thailand between 1970 and 1995.5

  • The US transferred over 61,000 surplus artillery projectiles, containing 8.1 million submunitions, to Bahrain and Jordan between 1995 and 2001.6

  • BL-755 cluster bombs produced in the UK have been exported to, or ended up being possessed or used by, 15 other countries.7

  • The former Yugoslavia was the first non-Western country to produce and export DPICM.8

  • Cluster munitions of Soviet origin are reported to be in the stockpiles of 22 countries.9

  • Impact and Time Delay Fuzed Bomblets

  • Largest diversity of types, but not largest number of submunitions.

    — Mostly air delivered munitions.

    — Varying types, shapes, functions, and effects (fragmentation, blast, runway cratering, high explosive antitank, combined effects, etc).

    · Common types include RBK series bombs and KMG-U dispensers of Soviet origin.

    — Generally do not have a self-destruct mechanism.

    — Time delay fuzes no longer common but recently considered some NATO and other countries as an alternative to antipersonnel mines.

    — Manufacturers often claim a submunition failure rate of 2–5 percent; explosive ordnance disposal personnel frequently report rates of 10–30 percent (e.g. Southeast Asia, Kuwait, Kosovo, Lebanon).

  • Used in conflicts in 20 states and disputed territories.10

  • Produced by 20 states and stockpiled by at least 68 states. 11

  • Some models removed from service due to age or reliability concerns by some countries, but other countries maintaining stocks of same models.

    — BL-755 bomb

    · A total of 52,500 bombs were produced containing 7.7 million submunitions.12 An average submunition dud rate of 6.4 percent based on 15 years of tests.13

    · Removed: Belgium, Germany (676,200 submunitions), Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, UK (536,550 submunitions).

    · Retained: India, Iran, Italy, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    — Rockeye bomb

    · Removed: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway.

    · Retained: Egypt, Greece, Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, US.

  • Submunitions in CBU-87 bombs in stockpiles14

    — US (22 million)

    — Saudi Arabia (243,000)

    — Egypt (154,000)

  • Submunitions in Rockeye bombs in stockpiles

    — US (14.5 million)

    — Turkey (816,000)

    — Egypt (321,000)

    — Morocco (198,000)

    — Thailand (124,000)

  • Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) without Self-Destruct

  • Impact fuze without self-destruct, dud rates of 3-23 percent based on US testing.

  • Widespread in very large quantities in global stockpiles.

    — Including NSAG, e.g. Northern Alliance & Hezbollah

  • Used in conflicts in eight countries and disputed territories.15

  • Produced by 18 states and stockpiled by at least 31 states.16

    — 128,000 M26 rockets, containing 82 million M-77 DPICM, were produced by MLRS European Producer Group.

    — There are 10 different cluster munition warheads containing DPICM for 122mm rockets manufactured by six countries.17

    — Belgium, Germany, and Netherlands have stopped production.

    — Removed from service by Belgium, Canada, Germany (partial), Netherlands (partial), and UK.

  • Submunitions contained in M-26 rocket stockpiles

    — US (238 million)

    — UK (27.8 million, being destroyed)

    — Germany (23.8 million)

    — Israel (11.6 million)

    — Netherlands (10 million, removed from service)

    — Egypt (at least 1.9 million)

    — Bahrain (at least one million)

  • Submunitions contained in stockpiles of DPICM without self-destruct projectiles

    — US (402 million)

    — Netherlands (15.3 million, two-thirds removed from service)

    — Bahrain (5.1 million)

    — Jordan (2.5 million)

    — UK (1.5 million, being destroyed)

  • DPICM with Self Destruct (SD)

  • Impact fuze with pyrotechnic, electro-mechanical, or mechanical SD mechanism.

    — Manufacturer Israel Military Industries claims a hazardous dud rate of 0.06 percent for M85 SD DPICM.18

    · Use in Lebanon of this type raises questions about this claim.

    — Submunition dud rates 1.3-2.3 percent based on Norwegian and UK testing of over 20,000 M85 SD DPICM.

    — The rate of unexploded ordnance (UXO) resulting from US production qualification testing of M30 guided MLRS rockets and M101 submunitions conducted in November 2006 totaled 6.5 percent and the submunition dud rate averaged 1.5 percent.19

  • Used in Iraq and Lebanon.

  • Produced by 13 states and stockpiled by at least 20 states.20

    — 60 million M85 SD DPICM produced by Israel Military Industries.21

    — Quantities of SD DPICM in stockpiles quite small compared with DPICM without SD.

  • SD DPICM submunitions contained in stockpiles of 155mm projectiles

    — Germany (8 million in DM642 and DM652 projectiles)

    — UK (2.9 million in L20A1 projectiles)

    — Norway (at least 2.6 million in DM642 and DM662 projectiles)

  • Sensor Fuzed Weapons (SFW)

  • Designed in the 1980s to sense and engage individual armored vehicles without creating a wide-area antipersonnel effect.

    — Features include advanced active and passive sensors (infrared, millimeter wave radar) and the ability to loiter above a target area.

    — SFW sometimes carry only two submunitions, instead of several hundred.

    — Very small number of different types.

    · US stockpiles 30,990 BLU-108 submunitions, which is 0.0004 percent of its submunition stocks.

  • First and only use in combat in Iraq in 2003.22

    — Time of attack and post conflict impacts unclear.

  • SFW are being researched, produced, or acquired by at least 14 countries.

    — Bonus (artillery-delivered): France, Sweden, US.

    — SMArt-155 (artillery delivered): Germany, Greece, Switzerland, UK, US.

    · Over 11,000 DM702 SMArt-155 have been produced so far by a European production consortium.23

    — MOTIV-3M (artillery, rocket, and air delivered): Russia, India, Kuwait.

    — Meteor (rocket-delivered): Poland.

    — CBU-97/CBU-105 (air dropped): US, Greece, South Korea, Oman, Turkey.

  • Trends and Future Developments

  • Efforts to improve accuracy of carrier munition coming into operational use.

    — Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) & guided MLRS.

  • Submunitions used as unitary munitions.

    — Brilliant Anti-armor Technology (BAT) submunitions originally designed for delivery by rocket are being individually used by drones (Viper Strike).

  • Multipurpose munitions that can be configured in unitary or submunition modes.

    — Textron’s “Clean Lightweight Area Weapon” (CLAW).

  • Humanitarian Concerns

  • Cluster munitions were designed for use in the Cold War, specifically for the large-scale bombardment of massed tank and infantry formations.

    — Gulf War 1991 (estimated 50 million submunitions)

    — Serbia/Kosovo 1999 (295,000 submunitions)

    — Afghanistan 2001/2002 (248,000 submunitions)

    — Iraq 2003 (1.8 to 2 million submunitions)

    — Lebanon (4 million submunitions)

  • Many cluster munitions in stockpiles are nearing or are beyond the end of their storage life and will become dangerous to use.

    — Prolonged storage may also increase the number of unexploded submunitions left after use.

  • Technical approaches to improve reliability only address the post-conflict problem and do not address the wide area effects of the weapon.

    — Self-destruct devices can give militaries a false impression that cluster munitions are safe to use in populated areas.

    — Failure rates in combat conditions are invariably higher than those established by production acceptance or surveillance testing regimes.

  • Reflections and General Observations

  • Vast majority of cluster munitions are not sophisticated weapons.

    — Most are demonstrated to be unreliable and inaccurate.

    — Neither dispensers nor submunitions are guided.

    — Many stockpiles are approaching or well beyond 20 years of storage life.

    — Most not designed to reduce or minimize UXO, as the weapons were not intended to be used in areas to which users would be returning.

  • “Newer” models such as DPICM have foreseeable high failure rates.

    — Self-destruct has not proven to be sufficiently effective or reliable solution.

  • Governments must demonstrate that any particular cluster munition does not cause unacceptable harm; burden of proof lies there, based on the demonstrated harm of so many types of cluster munitions in so many settings.

  • 1 The following 65 countries possess 122mm rockets (26 of these countries are not included in this briefing as stockpiling cluster munitions): Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Congo, DR Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia FYR, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    2 In addition, unconfirmed reports cite use of cluster munitions in Angola, Colombia, Kashmir, Nagorno-Karabakh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Yemen.

    3 Systems retired from US inventory include 105mm M-444 ICM, 155mm M-449, M449A1 DPICM, 8-Inch M404 ICM and M509A1  DPICM projectiles. US Army Material Systems Analysis Activity, “Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Study,” April 1996, p. 7.

    4 Department of the Army, “Procurement Programs, Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book, Fiscal Year 2008/2009 Budget Estimates, Ammunition Procurement, Army,” February 2007, p. 704.

    5 US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970-FY1995,” November 15, 1995, obtained by Human Rights Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request, November 28, 1995.

    6 US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Excess Defense Article database,” undated, (accessed November 28, 2006).

    7 BL-755 cluster bombs are reported to be stockpiled by Belgium, Eritrea, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Switzerland, Thailand, and the UAE. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, and most recently the UK have subsequently disposed of or are in the process of disposing of some or all the weapons.  

    8 US Defense Intelligence Agency, Improved Conventional Munitions and Selected Controlled-Fragmentation Munitions (Current and Projected) DST-1160S-020-90, June 8, 1990, partially declassified and made available under a Freedom of Information Act request.

    9 Cluster munitions of Soviet origin are reported to be in the stockpiles of Algeria, Angola, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

    10 Impact and time delay bomblets have been used in Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Chad, Chechnya, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Syria, Tajikistan, Western Sahara, former Yugoslavia (including Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo), and Vietnam.

    11 Countries that produce and stockpile impact and time delay bomblets include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, and US. Countries that stockpile impact and time delay bomblets include Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Libya, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UAE, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

    12 Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Robert Hewson, ed. (Surrey: UK: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 469.

    13 Defence Logistics Organization (DLO) Secretariat, DLO Andover, “Response to Landmine Action question,” Reference 06-02-2006-145827-009, March 27, 2006.

    14 Sources for stockpile figures presented: For US cluster munition stockpiles, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004; for UK stockpiles of cluster munitions, House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for Oct 10, 2006,Column 656W,Robert Hewson, “Cluster weapons ban leaves gap in UK inventory,” Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, April 10, 2007; for German cluster munition stockpiles,, “Cluster Bombs and Cluster Munitions: A Danger to Life,” December 2005, pp. 8-9; For Dutch cluster munition stockpiles, Joris Janssen, “Dutch Plan to Update Cluster Weapons,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, October 19, 2005; for recipients of US cluster munition exports, US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970-FY1995,” November 15, 1995, obtained by Human Rights Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request, November 28, 1995 and data from US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Notifications to Congress of Pending U.S. Arms Transfers,” “Foreign Military Sales,” “Direct Commercial Sales,” and “Excess Defense Articles” databases, (accessed November 28, 2006).

    15 DPICM submunitions have been used in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Western Sahara.

    16 DPICM are produced and stockpiled by Argentina, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and US. States that stockpile DPICM submunitions include Bahrain, Croatia, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Sudan.

    17 China, Egypt, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia produce warheads for 122mm rockets.

    18 Israel Military Industries, Artillery Ammunition Directorate, “Australian Senate Standing Committee Inquiry into Cluster Munitions (Prohibition Bill),” Letter ART-1035.07, February 14, 2007.

    19 Office of the US Army Product Manager, Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems, “Briefing on Precision Guided Missiles and Rockets; Self Destruct Fuze Efforts,” February 2007, Slide 7.

    20 States that produce and stockpile DPICM with self-destruct mechanisms include Argentina, France, Germany, India, Israel, South Korea, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, UK, and US. States that stockpile DPICM with self-destruct mechanisms include Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Japan, and Norway.

    21 Presentation to the 48th Annual Fuze Conference by Mike Hiebel, Alliant TechSystems, and Ilan Glickman, Israel Military Industries, “Self-Destruct Fuze for M864 Projectiles and MLRS Rockets,” Charlotte, North Carolina, April 27-28, 2004, Slide 9, (accessed November 28, 2006).

    22 In Iraq in 2003, the United States used air-dropped CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons and surface-launched M898 Sense and Destroy Armor (SADARM) 155mm artillery projectiles for the first time.

    23 “ATK/GIWS SMArt 155 Sensor Fuzed Munition Succeeds in UAE Desert Tests,” Alliant TechSystems press release, January 10, 2005, (accessed June 7, 2006).