Air Weapons: Russia Drops The Bigger One

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September 14, 2007: Russia has tested a ten ton conventional bomb, which it claims is twice as powerful as a similar U.S. weapon, the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast). The American weapon was ready for service four years ago, but has never been used. MOAB is pushed out the back of a SOCOM (Special Operations Command) MC-130E aircraft. The blast can be felt several kilometers away, and the mushroom shaped cloud (that rises to over 10,000 feet) can be seen more than 40 kilometers away.

MOAB replaced the Vietnam era BLU-82 (Daisy Cutter ) bomb, which used a 6.3 ton slurry of ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum. MOAB uses nine tons of more powerful tritonal explosives. In dry, dusty conditions, the Daisy Cutter produces a mushroom cloud similar to that created by a nuclear explosion (and for the same reason, the sheer size of the explosion creates an upward pull that sends up a "mushroom" of smoke and dust on a column of smoke).

In addition to a more powerful explosion, MOAB doesn't need a parachute, like the Daisy Cutter, but uses a GPS (like JDAM) and an aerodynamic body to detonate the bomb at a precise area. Thus the MOAB can be dropped from a higher altitude (like outside the range of machine-guns and rifles). MOAB is also shoved out the back of a cargo aircraft (usually a C-130, but since the MOAB uses GPS and higher altitude drops, the C-17 can probably be used as well.) MOAB is a highly destructive and terrifying weapon. If used in combat, the force of a MOAB explosion is sufficient to knock over tanks and kill any people within several hundred meters of the detonation.

The Russian bomb, which was unnamed, was dropped from a Tu-160 heavy bomber, and contains 7.1 tons of a more powerful explosive. Russia said the blast radius of their bomb was 300 meters, which is twice the size of MOAB. While MOAB is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT (the benchmark for measuring different explosives), the Russian bomb was equal to 44 tons of TNT.

Russia did not say what they would use their new heavy bomb for. Meanwhile, the United States is developing a fifteen ton bomb, but this one is for deep penetration, to get at bunkers buried deep underground.

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