Banned by more than 120 countries since the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2010, bombs of this type have created controversy due to their indiscriminate nature and high destructive power. However, it has been used by Russia and Ukraine since the start of the conflict in February 2021 and even the United States has sent shipments to the Zelensky government. Now, the United Kingdom warns of increasing its use through Moscow.
“In November 2023, the Russian Air Force seems to have started using usually the 500 kilo RBK-500 cluster bomb», the Ministry of Defense published on X, formerly known as Twitter, the daily report on the state of the war.
Depending on the variant, each RBK-500 will cost approx between 100 and 350 submunitions which can work in two ways: explode into hundreds of fragments at high speed or remain as a larger anti-tank charge.
“There are reports suggesting that RBK-500s were deployed against Ukrainian forces on the Vuhledar axis and near Avdiivka, Donetsk oblast. There is a real possibility that, as it did with other bombs dropped on air, Russia recently included the universal gliding and guidance module (UMPC)”, detailed the Ministry of Defense.
These systems, detailed the British Department, allow the RBK-500 to operate autonomously and, in addition, the plane carrying them can release it. kilometers away from the target. Like all cluster bombs, the operation is simple: a container opens in the air and disperses several explosive charges or “bombs” over a wide area, which can reach a radius between 200 and 400 meters.
The Ministry also commented on the effectiveness of these weapons: «Gliding systems, in general, tend to have low accuracy. However, due to the large number of submunitions, an RBK-500 can cause effects in an area of several hundred square meters, which increases the chance of dealing damage to the target».