Opening the magazine: Israel is using bombs from the 50s against Hamas

The modern Israeli Air Force F-16I Sufa loaded with four old M117 bombs for use against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Photo: IAF.

Israel is already in its second week of declared war against Hamas fundamentalists. Within Operation Iron Swords, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has employed a series of weapons, including bombs that, although old, are still very functional. 

The IAF has released a series of images of actions in the Gaza Strip. As the stockpile of JDAM and SPICE precision weapons dwindles, the IAF also employs old demolition bombs of the Mark 117, or M117, series carried under the wings of modern F-16 fighters.

Developed in the 1950s, the M117 are 750-pound (340 kg) bombs filled with Tritonal or Minol, two high-powered explosives with TNT in their composition. They were initially used by the United States in the Korean War as an intermediate between the 500-pound (226 kg) and 1000-pound (450 kg) bombs. 

Read more: Meet the Israeli fighter jets that are bombing Gaza

The M117's greatest use was during the Vietnam War, where they were dropped into the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the wings of legendary aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom II, B-52 Stratofortress, A-4 Skyhawk, F-100 Super Saber and several other models.

M117 bombs on the wing of a B-52G bomber during Operation Desert Storm. Photo: USAF.
M117 bombs on the wing of a B-52G bomber during Operation Desert Storm. Photo: USAF.

It was during this period that the M117 served as the basis for the BOLT 117 project, becoming the first laser-guided bomb in history. The MC-1 chemical bomb was also based on the Mark 117; Instead of explosives, it was filled with Sarin gas, a powerful chemical agent that attacks the nervous system. 

The bombs gave way to the Mk.80 series, which has bombs weighing 250, 500, 1000 and 2000 pounds. The last US M117s were launched in 2015. However, they are still stored in several countries, such as Israel, which took its weapons out of storage for use against Hamas. 

Even though they do not have the same precision as smart weapons like JDAM, guided by GPS, systems like CCIP/CCRP (Continually Computed Impact/Release Point) provide good aim for the precise launch of conventional bombs. 


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Gabriel Centeno

Author Gabriel Centeno

Journalism student at UFRGS, spotter and military aviation enthusiast.

Categories: Military, News, News

Tags: Pumps, Gaza Strip, Israel, usaexport