The CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition (CEM) cluster bomb was introduced in 1986 as a replacement for earlier, Vietnam War-era cluster bombs. The CBU-87 CEM comprises the SUU-64/B Tactical Munitions Dispenser (TMD), the FZU-39 proximity fuse, and 202 BLU-97/B Combined Effect Bomb (CEB) sub-munitions.
The CBU-87 can be delivered at any altitude and at any airspeed. In addition, because the CBU-87 is proximity fused, it can be "toss" delivered, to increase the target standoff distance in high threat environments, and still detonate at the appropriate altitude. The bomblete dispersal pattern and impact area can be modified by adjusting the rate of spin on the munition dispenser and the altitude at which it opens. Set to a low rate of spin (e.g. less than 500 rpm) and opened at low altitude (e.g. less than 300 feet) a single CBU-87 will dispense bomblets over an area of 120 by 200 feet, with an average of 9 feet between bomblets. Depending on spin rate and altitude of dispersal, the coverage pattern can range from 70 x70 feet to 800 x 400 feet.
The BLU-97/B sub-munition is a combined effects munition, providing both anti-armor and anti-personnel effects, as well as an incendiary capability. The munition itself is essentially a small anti-armor shaped charge housed inside a scored steel case, designed to break up into 300 pre-formed fragments upon detonation.
The SUU-64/B is made of fiberglass, and is olive drab in color. The dispenser is approximately 16 inches in diameter, 7.5 feet long, weighs approximately 950 pounds, and on deployment breaks apart into 6 separate pieces.
The BLU-97/B bomblet is yellow in color, approximately 7 inches long, 2.5 inches in diameter, and weighs 3.41 pounds. Prior to deployment the tail end of the bomblet is ringed with a series of copper metal drogue tabs. Once released, the drogue tabs orient the bomblet and deploy the munition's inflatable decelerator (essentially an air inflated pillow which both slows the munition down but orients the warhead.)