Bombkapsel 90 (BK90) is the Swedish Air Force's nomenclature for a gliding stand-off submunitions dispenser, or cluster bomb, with 72 submunitions. It is manufactured by DaimlerChrysler Aerospace in Germany by the name of DWS 24 - Dispenser Weapon System 24 barrels. The BK90 is also commonly known as DWS 39 Mjölner because it was intended for use with the Saab JAS 39 Gripen. In the future it could be also integrated on the Eurofighter Typhoon. Its design is very similar to that of the American AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon.
Have been in service with the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen aircraft, but withdrawn, after the government of Sweden decided to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the use of BK90. In conjunction with the LITENING targeting pod, the weapon is currently operational with the Hellenic Air Force carried both by the F-4E PI-2000 AUP and the A-7E Corsair II.
Background and reason for development
"Cluster bombs" are notorious for leaving active unexploded ordnance (UXO) which had failed to detonate upon impact. The main task for the Swedish Armed Forces has for a long time been to repel a potential foreign invading force. This means all weapon systems are designed for use in within Sweden's national borders. For a very long time, all weapons using submunitions were rejected by the Defence Materiel Administration with the motivation that potentially leaving active UXO was an unacceptable risk.
There was a significant need for a weapon that would leave no active UXO, have a smaller risk area than a conventional minbomb (Swedish term for small bomb dropped by aircraft), and have the capacity to destroy a large number of heavy armour attacking in mass. A project to develop such a weapon was initiated in cooperation with a weapons manufacturer. The system was called a submunition dispenser to clarify the difference between it and an older type cluster weapon. A significant amount of resources was devoted to developing this system, and to make sure that no matter what happened, an UXO would never become active and pose a danger to the civilian populus.
Unlike a cluster weapon every component in this submunitions dispenser has been designed so that it cannot leave active, unexploded submunitions. For example, a submunition cannot detonate without a correct launch indication. If a faulty submunition was to be launched from the pod and by some unlikely event become active on the ground, the internal system has been designed so that the submunition cannot detonate for any reason, since it didn't receive a correct launch indication. There are many other design features resulting in that no active unexploded ordnance is left. The details about exactly how this is achieved are all classified.
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