Russia’s ‘Father Of All Bombs’

  • The U.S. on April 13, 2017 dropped its biggest non-nuclear device, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB, hence the nickname the Mother Of All Bombs) on Islamic State targets in Afghanistan.
  • First tested in 2003, the bomb unleashes destructive power equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT.
  • But, it’s not the most powerful bomb in the world.
  • Russia has a Father Of All Bombs, a far more destructive device.

What is the Father Of All Bombs?

  • Officially the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power, the ordnance is four times more powerful than the U.S. weapon.
  • Unlike the MOAB, which uses conventional ordnance, the FOAB aka “Big Daddy” is Thermobaric — meant to burn its targets.
  • It uses oxygen from the atmosphere, rather than carrying an oxidising agent in its explosives.
  • It produces more energy than normal weapons but is harder to control.
  • According to the Russian military the FOAB is equivalent to 44 tonnes of TNT compared to the U.S. device’s 11 tonnes.

How does it work?

  • Such devices generally detonate in two stages.
  • First a small blast disperses a main load of explosive material into a cloud, which then either spontaneously ignites in air or is set off by a second charge.
  • This explosion generates a pressure wave that reaches much further than that from a conventional explosive. The consumption of gases in the blast also generates a partial vacuum that can compound damage and injuries caused by the explosion itself.
  • “The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature.
  • All that is alive merely evaporates.

When was it tested?

  • It was first tested on September 11, 2007. Russia’s military said the aviation vacuum bomb, also known as a fuel-air bomb, was the mightiest ever created.

What was the background to Russia’s announcement of the FOAB?

  • Russia’s announcement of the bomb came at a time of growing tension between Moscow and the West, and followed a tumultuous eight months in which Vladimir Putin denounced U.S. power, torn up a conventional arms agreement with NATO, and grabbed a large, if symbolic, chunk of the Arctic.


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