The "J Effect" is one of the worst nightmares of anyone planning an aerial attack against a target. The pre-attack intelligence is perfect, the bomber is already in the air, and the trained pilot has identified the target with absolute certainty. He launches the bomb against the target, and it detaches itself from the body of the plane, falls to earth at a speed of 380 meters per second, and hits the target accurately. The bomb penetrates the roof of the building, and should make its way down through the remaining floors, when the time delay fuse will set it off in the middle of the target, making it a total ruin. According to the intelligence information for the attack, a terrorist leader was in the target. It could be a rare opportunity to get rid of someone who never will be missed.
Then comes the awful "J Effect," which spoils all the air force celebrations and puts the champagne back in the cases. On its way down through the building, the bomb loses direction and goes through a side wall in the building on a path in the shape of the letter "J."
A recipe for trouble
This situation is a recipe for trouble. Prodigious intelligence resources have been spent on the operation for eliminating the target, but he escapes alive, in one piece, and as malicious as ever, and no one knows when the next information nugget will come and make it possible to get him. Another horrifying possibility is that the bomb, having already missed its target, will seek out a kindergarten, mosque, school, or crowded market, and the world will be enraged at the sight of dreadful slaughter. The UN will go crazy; it has already put Israel up in front of an investigative commission for less, or rained severe condemnations on it. History has already seen justified operations terminated before achieving their objective because a bomb or shell got to the wrong place at the wrong time.
It is not only the unfortunate "J Effect." Bombs are a deadly business, but also a sensitive one, and there are good reasons for it - they do not always explode where they are supposed to. Aerial attacks also end in bitter disappointment when the bomb strikes the target accurately, but only breaks apart on contact, or "jumps away" to a place it was never supposed to reach. In the worst case, it explodes there, or in a less terrible case, it becomes a hazardous dud.
These phenomena are common in what are called "general use" bombs - outmoded bombs developed in the 1940s. Over the years, they have undergone adaptions to more up-to-date warfare, such as improved precision capabilities using GPS in order to avoid hitting civilians uninvolved in the fighting. These are a series of bombs referred to by Western air forces as MK-81s (250 pounds), MK-82 (500 pounds), MK-81 (1,000 pounds), and MK-84 (2,000 pounds). The revisions are performed using GPS-based guidance systems that turn every "stupid" bomb into a "smart" bomb that identifies its target address and is able to hit it within a range of 10 meters.
"We started running scenarios"
After the Second Lebanon War in 2006, air force officers sat down in the IMI (Israel Military Industries) Systems offices in Ramat Hasharon and described a new need to the engineers, derived from fresh debriefings. They asked for the same bombs, but more reliable ones that do not break apart en route, do not jump away from the target, and certainly do not explode where bombs should not explode.
IMI Systems, which is in the advanced pre-privatization stages, has honestly won recognition as a fountain of knowledge about bombs and warheads; it is easy to understand why Israel air force commanders turned to it.
The company convened its leading engineers for long discussions and to rack their brains, because you do not say "No" to the air force. "We analyzed the requirements and gave all the relevant data to a special team, which worked on simulations and began to run scenarios," IMI air systems administrative head Ronny Treyfus says, adding, "The requirements given to us also mentioned better penetration capabilities for the bomb; controlled fragmentation, instead of the uncontrolled fragmentation in every direction over a wide radius; a strong fuse with no 'J Effect,' and in spite of it all, a bomb that would be substantially cheaper."
At IMI, they racked their brains, justifiably so: how much can you perfect a stupid metal bomb developed over 60 years ago? They then decided to produce a new bomb for the air force, with a strong penetrator and fuse, but in a different shape than the ogive shape of an ordinary metal bomb that all the air force warplanes have been designed to carry. "We came out with a straight bomb, so we decided to prepare a 'costume' for an ordinary MK-82 bomb: we covered it with an envelope of compound materials that give it the same appearance of the old bomb. We filled the space between the envelope and the bomb itself with controlled shrapnel - 26,000 balls weighing half a gram each. When the bomb explodes, the entire uncontrolled fragmentation is aimed downward. This dramatically reduces what is called 'collateral damage,' and focuses the damage on the bomb's defined target. When experts from all over the world heard about the metamorphosis of this bomb, they were left gaping," Treyfus relates.
The air force was delighted with its new improved bomb, which it calls the "reinforced MK-82." IMI Systems gave it a new commercial name, MPR-500, and many of them have already been dropped over targets, exploded, and provided excellent results during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. "With this bomb size, the air force isn't even willing to think about procuring other bombs," Treyfus exclaims.
IMI Systems reasoned that if the Israeli air force was so happy with the bomb, why shouldn't other Western air forces share in the fun? In addition to the MPR-500, they created larger bombs, such as the MPR-1000 and MPR-2000. IMI Systems officials are unwilling to disclose the names of the countries whose planes already carry the MPR bombs, due to the latter's understandable unwillingness to reveal the improved offensive capabilities they have bought from Israel. "I can only say that the MPR bombs are already on three continents, with more to come," Treyfus reports. "The price of a bomb like this is significantly lower than the price of the same bomb that generates horrifying collateral damage." Available only at selected stores.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 3, 2016
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