Anti-runway penetration bombs are systems involving bombs or bomblets which are designed to disrupt the surface of an airfield runway (or tarmac) and make it unusable for flight operations.
One early system was the Matra Durandal, a single 450 lb bomb with rocket booster and two warheads. The device worked by first igniting a large warhead to create a crater, then subsequently using a smaller charge that had penetrated the crater to displace adjacent concrete slabs. The slabs, once displaced, were far harder to deal with than a simple hole that could be patched: the defenders would either have to pulverize the slab (for which tools might not be ready) or take the risk that a protruding slab would flip a landing airframe (quite possible considering the velocities at which a jet aircraft lands).
There is a persistent story that the first and perhaps best known use of the current Matra Durandal was by Israeli Mirages during the Six Day War when the large Egyptian air Force was almost completely destroyed on the ground. This is inaccurate as this war in 1967 took place ten years before the Durnadal was first available on the arms market. Rather, according to a history of the weapon by Forecast International, the defense marketing strategy group, the prototype French/Israeli anti-runway weapon which actually cratered Egyptian runways in 1967 is related but distinct in using rocket rather than parachute braking over the target used by the Matra development branch which from 1971 on would form the basis for the Durandal as we currently know it.
Another, now withdrawn from service, was the JP233, a submunitions system in which an aircraft would fly over the target runway and a mixture of penetrating and anti-personnel submunitions would be dispensed to both crater the runway and impede repair work. These submunitions could be armed with delayed-fuses, meaning that workcrews run the risk of death or bodily injury as they worked on runway repair. After the UK signed an international accord banning cluster mines, the JP233 was retired. References:
- "Jane's Air Launched Weapons". Jane's Information group. 12. http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Air-Launched-Weapons/Durandal-BLU-107-B-France.html. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
- "Dassault Mirage: The Combat Log", Salvador Mafe Huertas, page-41, ISBN 978-0764301681
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