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Success rate low for high-tech bombs in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fewer than half of the Iraqi radar sites attacked around Baghdad with the high-tech Joint Stand-Off Weapon in last Friday's air strikes were disabled or destroyed, Defense Department officials told CNN on Wednesday.

Pentagon officials said all seven command and control sites targeted with other guided weapons were either completely destroyed or severely damaged, but the success rate for radars was remarkably low.

Graphic: Strike on Iraq

Officials now concede that of the "20 to 22" radars near Baghdad that were selected for destruction, only "about half were damaged ... most of them weren't," according to one official. It is still not clear how many were completely destroyed, if any.

The problem, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has been traced to an error in the technologically advanced bomb known as the AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon or "J-SOW."

Costing $150,000 per bomb, the J-SOW was dropped by Navy F/A-18 Hornets flying from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman and was guided to its target by the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. Under ordinary circumstances, it is expected to land within a few meters of its intended "aim point," the officials said.

After several days of bomb damage assessment by the Pentagon, it is clear that a significant number of the bombs dropped Friday landed consistently "a couple of hundred yards" from radars targeted for destruction, according to an official.

The bombs have a range of more than 120 miles and can carry a variety of warheads including cluster-bomb units, also known as "bomblets," which spray an area with shrapnel and are considered ideal for targets such as radars.

The J-SOWs can weight up to 1,500 pounds, depending on their configuration.

An official familiar with the issue told CNN that there was a "pretty consistent error" and said the Navy is now investigating the matter in an effort to determine whether the problem was with data input, software, hardware or some other component of the complex weapon.

The leading theory, according to another official, is that the data input was flawed in some way and would have to be corrected in the future.

Asked if the misses would require another round of strikes, one senior official said "we have sent our message," and suggested that another round of attacks is not planned.

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United Nations
Office of the Iraq Programme
The Iraqi Presidency
Iraqi National Congress
Iraq energy profile, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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