Air Force Displays Its New "Focused Lethality Munition"

The drone-like bomb packs precision guidance systems and a highly focused lethal blast

Real Precision Bombing

A precision flyer aims to pack a punch with less collateral damageAviation Weekly

Dr. Strangelove's Major 'King' Kong might have trouble riding this sleek bomb down to the ground, but that's the entire point of a munition meant to reduce collateral damage.

The Focused Lethality Munition, on display at the Air Force Association show, puts the emphasis on precision, with a GPS-guided inertial guidance system that supposedly has hardening against possible jamming.

The bomb's killing power comes from a "multiphase-blast explosive fill" developed by the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). That explosive fill probably refers to the fine tungsten powder found in Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) technology, which becomes an extremely lethal cloud upon impact, but only travels a short distance, to minimize collateral damage.

A carbon fiber composite warhead similarly breaks up into small fibers upon impact, and avoids creating steel fragments that might cause widespread death and injury. The 206-pound blast from the bomb also stands in stark contrast to the Pentagon's upcoming bunker buster, which packs 5,300 pounds of explosives.

The bomb's drone-like appearance comes from deployable wings that allow it to home in on its target from a distance. Aerospace manufacturer Boeing notes that Air Force planes ranging from the F-22 Raptor to B-1 and B-2 bombers can carry the bomb, and suggests that even drones could deploy the weapon.

That sounds all well and good, as long as human handlers can keep a hold on their armed robotic charges.