Father of all bombs
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|"The Father of All Bombs"|
Fireball blast from the Russian "Father of All Bombs", with the beginnings of a mushroom cloud
|Type||Thermobaric vacuum bomb|
|Place of origin||Russia|
|Used by||Russian Air Force|
|Weight||7,100 kg (7.1 tonnes)|
|Blast yield||44 tons TNT / 80,000 Ibs|
Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP) (Russian: Авиационная вакуумная бомба повышенной мощности (АВБПМ)), nicknamed "Father of All Bombs" (FOAB) (Отец всех бомб), is a Russian-made air-delivered/land activated thermobaric weapon. In describing the bomb's destructive power, Russian deputy armed forces chief of staff Alexander Rukshin was quoted as saying, "all that is alive merely evaporates." The bomb is reportedly four times as powerful as the U.S. military's GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB, backronymmed as the "Mother of All Bombs"). This would make it by far the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) weapon in the world, although the legitimacy of the weapon's size and power has been called into question by some U.S defense analysts.
The bomb was successfully field-tested in the late evening of September 11, 2007. According to the Russian military, the new weapon will replace several smaller types of nuclear bombs in its arsenal.
The vacuum device yields the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT using7.8 tons of a new type of high explosive developed with the use of nanotechnology. Because of this, the bomb has the same destructive power as a small tactical nuclear weapon. The bomb works by detonating in mid-air. Most damage is inflicted by a supersonic shockwave and extremely high temperatures, which incinerates everything nearby. Thermobaric weapons differ from conventional explosive weapons by using oxygen from the atmosphere, rather than carrying an oxidizing agent in their explosives. They produce more energy than normal weapons but are harder to control.
According to General Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because, due to nanotechnology, the temperature at the centre of the blast is twice as high. He says the bomb's capabilities are comparable to nuclear weapons, but unlike a nuclear weapon, use of the weapon does not damage or pollute the environment beyond the blast radius.
In comparison, the MOAB produces the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT from 8 tons of high explosive. The blast radius of the FOAB is 300 m, more than double that of the MOAB, and the temperature produced is twice as high.
Comparison with MOAB
|Indicator||MОАВ[dead link]||FОАВ[dead link]|
|Mass:||8,200 kg||7,100 kg|
|TNT equivalent:||11 tons / 20,000 Ib||~44 tons / 80,000 Ib|
|Blast radius:||150 m (500 ft)||300 m (1,000 ft)|
Analysis and legitimacy
Some defense analysts question both the yield of the bomb and whether it could be deployed by a Tupolev bomber. A report by Wired says photos and the video of the event suggest that it is designed to be deployed from the rear of a slow moving cargo plane, and they note that the bomb-test video released by the Russians never shows both the bomb and the Tupolev bomber in the same camera shot. There are also questions on what type of explosives it actually used. They quoted Tom Burky, a senior research scientist at Battelle, saying "It's not even clear what kind of weapon the Russians tested." He questions if it was what some experts call a "fuel-air explosive," or if it was a "thermobaric" weapon. "Fuel-air and thermobaric bombs differ in usefulness". Burky says that the weapon depicted in the video appears to be a fuel-air explosive, based on its shape.
Phillip Coyle, an adviser to the Washington, D.C., Center for Defense Information, says he is skeptical about Father of All Bombs' true power. "It (the blast) may be bigger than MOAB," he concedes, "but it's not four times bigger -- at best 50 percent bigger, just going on the bomb's size and how these bombs are designed."
However, John Pike, an analyst at the think tank GlobalSecurity, says that despite his skepticism, he believes the Father of All Bombs is roughly as powerful as the Russians claim. What he does not necessarily believe is that the weapon is actually new. He says the Russians have possessed a range of thermobaric weapons for at least four decades. Pike says:
"These are fuel-air explosives, designed to generate intense blast pressure over a large area. It is reported that the Russian bomb is a so called thermobaric bomb that produces both blast and heat. The Russian military has been a pioneer in the development and use of these thermobaric weapons. This would have to be one of the largest deliverable, droppable bombs in military history."
Robert Hewson, an editor for Jane's, told the BBC it was likely that FOAB indeed represented the world's biggest non-nuclear bomb. "You can argue about the numbers and how you scale this but the Russians have a long and proven history of developing weapons in the thermobaric class," he says. UPI claimed the device "would enormously boost Russia's conventional military capabilities."
- ^ Adrian Blomfield (2007-09-13). ""Russian army 'tests the father of all bombs'". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/12/wbomb112.xml. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- ^ a b Luke Harding (2007-09-12). "Russia unveils the 'father of all bombs'". Guardian Unlimited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2167175,00.html. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- ^ "Did Russia Stage the Father of All Bombs Hoax?". Wired.com. October 4, 2007. http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2007/10/russian_bomb#. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
- ^ a b Илья Kрамник (2007-09-12). "Кузькин отец" (in Russian). Lenta.ru. http://www.lenta.ru/articles/2007/09/12/bomb/. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- ^ a b c d Russia tests `world's most powerful bomb Russia Today Retrieved on March 18, 2008
- ^ a b Russia tests giant fuel-air bomb BBC News Retrieved on March 18, 2008
- ^ a b The "Father" of All Bombs Retrieved on March 18, 2008
- ^ Adrian Blomfield (2007-09-12). "Russian army 'tests the father of all bombs'". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/12/wbomb112.xml. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- ^ "Российская вакуумная бомба сравнима по мощности с ядерным боеприпасом" (in Russian). NewsRibbon. 2007-09-12. http://www.newsribbon.ru/news/2808.html. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- ^ Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb — Aviation Thermobatic Bomb.
- ^ (АTBIP) Aviation Thermobatic Bomb with Increased Power —Aviation Thermobatic Bomb.
- ^ a b c d "Did Russia Stage the Father of All Bombs Hoax?". Wired.com. October 4, 2007. http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2007/10/russian_bomb#. Retrieved 2007-10-04.