One of our insider correspondents points out this AP photograph from Lebanon and raises a red flag:
I am not saying the description is false, but I spent 20 years in the Air Force, much of that time doing targeting and mission planning for aircrews which involved a lot of post-strike analysis. This is by far, the lease [sic] amount of damage from an "air strike" I have ever seen. Even a Hellfire missile does more damage than this, remember the Predator strike on the car of some Al Qaeda operatives some time back? Total destruction of a soft vehicle like this. The only damage, other than minor body damage, I see is a missing sun roof. Thought you might want to add it to your list of possible fakes.While inconsistent with the effects of large munitions such as satellite- and laser-guided bombs and even, yes, Hellfire missiles, this damage might represent a lucky hit by a helicopter-fired unguided rocket or a cluster bomb ... or something far more sophisticated.Consider: The U.S. Air Force since the late 1990s has had a weapon that disperses guided submunitions (each packing the punch of a hand grenade), each bomb capable of taking out a company of tanks. It's called the Sensor Fuzed Weapon. Globalsecurity.org explains:
The Sensor Fuzed Weapon [SFW] is an unpowered, top attack, wide area, cluster munition, designed to achieve multiple kills per aircraft pass against enemy armor and support vehicles. After release, the TMD opens and dispenses the ten submunitions which are parachute stabilized. Each of the 10 BLU-108/B submunitions contains four armor-penetrating projectiles with infrared sensors to detect armored targets.Defense Industry Daily appropriately calls the SFW "cans of whup-ass".Israel is a known consumer of American Joint Direct Attack Munitions and a producer of laser-guided bombs. Has it gotten into the SFW game too, either with American weapons or its own similar design?If so, I'm not surprised they've kept it under wraps. This is a cluster bomb we're talking about, the kind of weapon notorious for accidentally taking out civilians who might be milling around the battlefield.--David AxeUPDATED, 8/11/06: A source from inside the aviation industry says the mystery munition might be a Viper Strike.