- 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.