The increased use of cluster munitions by russia is a worrying development
Through November 2023, the russian Air Force has likely started to more frequently employ the RBK-500 500 kg cluster munition bomb. Depending on the variant, each RBK-500 ejects between approximately 100 and 350 sub-munitions. In turn, each sub-munition typically detonates with either hundreds of high-velocity fragments, or a single, larger anti-tank charge, the UK Defense Intelligence reports.
The RBK-500 bombs are reported to have been deployed against Ukrainian forces on the Vuhledar axis and near Avdiivka, both in Donetsk region. There is a realistic possibility that, as with other air-dropped bombs, russia has likely recently integrated an UMPC guided stand-off glide kit with the RBK-500 bomb. This allows the carrying aircraft to release the munition many kilometres away from the target.
Russia’s glide bomb kits have generally achieved poor accuracy. However, with its large number of sub-munitions, a single RBK-500 can cause effects over an area of several hundred metres, increasing the chance of inflicting at least some damage on the intended target.