These types of weapons fall in to three main categories: conventional if filled with explosives, dispersive if filled with sub-munitions, chemicals which spread before or on impact, or nuclear. Each has a different capability depending on the target type they are dropped on to.
Incendiary Bombs / Napalm
These can be either napalm type gel or a mixture of a liquid accelerant and an oxidiser that ignites on contact with the target area. The bomb splits and spreads its contents over an area, ignites and sticks to anything it touches causing damage to the target and surrounding area.
FAE / Thermobaric
These types of bombs use atmospheric oxygen, instead of an oxidizer. They are also known as High Impulse Thermobaric weapons (HITs), Vacuum Bombs or Fuel Air Explosives. They produce more explosive energy for a given size than any other conventional explosive. These weapons operate by detonating a primary explosive to break open the bomb casing and then a secondary explosion to detonate the cloud of vapourised liquid. This type of weapon causes high levels of damage to the target and surrounding area.
These types of warheads are small in size and are packed in to a conventional bomb type casing. Cluster munitions are released at a preset height over the battlefield and fall to the ground and scatter covering an area of the battlefield depending on the size of the ordnance used and number of pairs dropped. They come in a variety of types from anti-personnel, anti-tank or a mixture of the two. The firepower is obtained from the bomblet type being deployed.
Precision Guided Bombing
Precision-guided munitions also known as smart bombs are weapons that are self guided and maximise damage to a target with a smaller number of weapons. These types of bombs usually have high yield explosives such as 500 – 2000kgs in size. They are normally used for priority hard targets such as bunkers, buildings or fixed radar and SAM sites. Their use is limited to vehicle and troop concentrations but not unheard of. Bombs are guided by a variety of methods including TV, radio, and laser and with the introduction of JDAM and JSOW, GPS.
Guided bombs are usually released in single numbers although if the target is of high priority or of hardened construction, pairs of bombs are dropped to ensure if the first does not produce the required result the second will.
Air to Ground Cannon Fire
Some aircraft are equipped with cannons or machineguns that can engage targets on the ground. Some have a dedicated role in air to ground cannon fire such as the US A-10 or Russian SU-25 Frogfoot. Cannon attacks can be either direct fire attacks on a single target such as a vehicle, building or other static target. The other form of attack is direct area fire known as strafing where the firing aircraft fires its cannon or machineguns in a straight line at either a group of targets or along a wooded frontage or crest of a hill top.
For an aircraft to use its guns and/or cannons it must be at low altitude. Only a single attack using machineguns/cannon can be made per pass over the battlefield this attack can be either a strafing run or direct fire attack.
Aircraft Gun - Direct Attack
A direct attack will be against a single unit at Effective Range (24” – 36”). Use the autocannon line on the Direct Fire Table and apply any applicable modifiers. If a hit is achieved use the corresponding weapons penetration value.
Aircraft Gun - Strafing Attack
A strafing attack is where an aircraft selects an area it wishes to attack with a prolonged burst of fire from its machine guns or cannons. The area covered in the attack is 2” wide by 6” long irrespective of the calibre of weapon used. Any target within this area may take damage from the attack. This type of attack is a Direct Area Fire attack and uses the Direct & Indirect Area Fire & Bombing Table. The weapon being used will have a Firepower rating and the corresponding line is used against each target type in the strafing area.
Anti Radiation Missiles
Anti radiation missiles are used for a number of different purposes including attacking high value radar installations and flak suppression. They are capable of homing in on enemy radar sources from relatively long distances. Target radar is considered ON when it has spent and action to activate whether it was successful or not. It is considered as OFF if it was not used.
General Purpose / Bunker
These weapons are usually large missiles with a heavy, powerful warhead. They are used to destroy high priority targets such as buildings, bunkers and other fixed placed installations. Some can be used to target smaller mobile targets such as vehicles. These missiles have a variety of different homing methods that require the launching aircraft to continually illuminate the target to more sophisticated fire and forget missiles.