The World's Biggest Non-Nuclear Bomb

The Father of All Bombs

If the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst) is the "mother of all bombs", the newly tested Russian bomb is the "father of all bombs".

The Russian air force has just tested a huge fuel-air bomb which is the biggest non-nuclear explosive device ever produced. A Tupolev-160 "Blackjack" supersonic bomber dropped the bomb over a test area and, following the powerful explosion, a four-story building was turned into rubble.

Analysts agree that the new Russian bomb is bigger than the MOAB. This type of bombs is mainly aimed for underground targets. Fuel-air bombs (thermobaric devices) are generally detonated in two steps: a small explosion produces a cloud of explosive material, which then ignites the bomb material with devastating effects.

The new bomb contains just 7.8 tons of high explosives (as efficient as 44 tons of TNT) compared with over 8 for the Moab, but its effects are four times more devastating as it employs a new type of explosive employing nanotechnology. The blast range on the ground was of 300 m (990 ft), similar to a small nuclear device. "Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon. It has no match in the world," Gen Alexander Rukshin, Russian deputy armed forces chief of staff.

"I think the likelihood is that this is the world's biggest non-nuclear bomb," Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-launched Weapons, told the BBC News, basing his opinion on Russia's tradition in the development and use of fuel-air devices.

"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. Russia used such weapons in Afghanistan and Chechnya," said Hewson, who believes that the bomb was developed for the Chechen conflict but was never actually used, due to the enormous destruction it could inflict.

"The test blast was a "statement" by Russia comparable in its psychological effect to America's demonstration of the MOAB just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq - a demonstration never followed up by its actual use. The Russians are in a phase of needing to make statements at the moment and have done the same thing," said Hewson.


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