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Old November 12th, 2012, 09:13 PM   #1
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Thermobaric Bomb – a substitute for small tactical nuclear weapon?


American developed in 2002 the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB)
Russian, were not far behind developing their thermobaric bomb in 2003, reportedly four times bigger than American MOAB.
This bombs, designed to create high blast pressure and heat over a big area (could be of couple hundred meters) which could be a deadly weapon affecting exposed as well as cancelled in bunkers or tanks soldiers. Will this weapon replace tactical warheads in future? Its huge size is a big drawback limiting the delivery system to the air drop from huge aircraft only.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #2

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Not a very rapid development of technology when one remembers that Barnes Wallace's Grand Slam was in operation in 1945 (42 dropped in 4 months).
The Grand Slam weighed 22,000lbs, had a charge of 9000lbs and had a blast yield of 6.5 tons and was principally a penetrator, rather than a blast weapon.

The GBU-43/B weighs 22,600lbs, has a charge of 18,700lbs and a blast yield of 11 tons.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 10:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ancientgeezer View Post
Not a very rapid development of technology when one remembers that Barnes Wallace's Grand Slam was in operation in 1945 (42 dropped in 4 months).
The Grand Slam weighed 22,000lbs, had a charge of 9000lbs and had a blast yield of 6.5 tons and was principally a penetrator, rather than a blast weapon.

The GBU-43/B weighs 22,600lbs, has a charge of 18,700lbs and a blast yield of 11 tons.
Thermobaric weapon is affecting much bigger area in different way than conventional explosive, which is concentrated at the middle of the explosion. Thermobaric weapon work in different way. apart from blast pressure an thermal effects, it also create massive vacuum after explosion which is deadly for human life.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 11:03 PM   #4

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Gen. Alexander Rustin in 2007, commenting the last experiments of the Russian thermobaric bomb, said that it's 4 times more powerful than the American one, but its weight is of 7 tons [the US version is around 10 tons].

In a few words, the Russians [who actually invented this kind of weapon] have developed further the conception of the notorious America "Daisy cutter" bomb [really a great name for a bomb!] which had used to set terrain free from vegetation to allow helicopter to take land [this usage was common in Vietnam].

Theoretically, it's a good alternative to tactic nuclear weapons. It's "clean" [in the limits that such a tremendous bomb destroying all generates at least pollution ...], without radioactive fallout and the area of the effect of the explosion can be determined before of using it [the effect of a nuclear explosion in the time is affected by winds which can carry the fallout in not exactly predicted direction. The same can happen with the cloud of a thermobaric bomb, but in this case we deal with pollution, not with radiation].

Putting this weapon in the warhead of a missile it's possible to hit far targets with a huge destructive effect.

So far the negative aspect is about dimension [and so weight], 7 tons is not a light cargo for a long range missile. Anyway it's possible. Let's say that with the same big missile it's still more "economical" [relation cost / destruction] to carry a nuclear warhead [with such a weight involved], anyway the path is that ...
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Old November 13th, 2012, 01:41 AM   #5
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TOS-1 Soviet thermobaric weapon invented in 80's. It was used in Afghanistan in 1988.
Its nickname is Buratino (russian version of Pinocchio) .
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 02:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Will this weapon replace tactical warheads in future?
I do not think so. Nuclear reaction have no concurrence as long as weight to energy ratio goes. It is several orders more efficient than normal explosive.

That said, thermobaric weapons have bright future ahead. They are capable of things normal explosives are not.

Problem with nukes of course is moral and political. They are never going to be used in ordinary conflicts.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 02:14 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by arras View Post
I do not think so. Nuclear reaction have no concurrence as long as weight to energy ratio goes. It is several orders more efficient than normal explosive.

That said, thermobaric weapons have bright future ahead. They are capable of things normal explosives are not.

Problem with nukes of course is moral and political. They are never going to be used in ordinary conflicts.
agreed. not that they're more effective (price/performance) but they're more politically correct than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 03:37 AM   #8

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I don't know anything about the Russian tactical arsenal, but I don't think it will be able to replace any American tactical nuclear weapons. The nuke it's usually compared to is the Davy Crockett, a fractional-kiloton nuclear recoilless rifle, which was deactivated and scrapped in 1971. Our current tactical arsenal consists entirely of 170-kT B61 variable-yield gravity bombs. Thermobarics just aren't in the same class. I don't really think we should have tactical nuclear weapons anyway, but if we're going to, thermobarics won't be able to displace them.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 05:53 AM   #9

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It depends on how big you want your thermobarics to be. The Russians have been field a line of thermobaric grenades/charges and rocket warheads since the mid 80s or so, they got used in Afghanistan for clearing buildings, bunkers and caves since their combination of sucking air out of the cavity and then overpressure was effectively overkill, nothing in a sealed space was going to survive.

The US had little need of them until the early 2000s when they ended up Afghanistan and Iraq when they met the same tactical problems and got interested.

They did get some limited use in europe since a thermobaric charge fired from a tank shell was reckoned to be useful for clearing minefields without the need for engineers but i dont know if that one was ever seriously produced, it made an impressive video in the experiments though
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Old November 13th, 2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asnys View Post
I don't know anything about the Russian tactical arsenal, but I don't think it will be able to replace any American tactical nuclear weapons. The nuke it's usually compared to is the Davy Crockett, a fractional-kiloton nuclear recoilless rifle, which was deactivated and scrapped in 1971. Our current tactical arsenal consists entirely of 170-kT B61 variable-yield gravity bombs. Thermobarics just aren't in the same class. I don't really think we should have tactical nuclear weapons anyway, but if we're going to, thermobarics won't be able to displace them.
Just quick stroll through Google (if the info is correct what is a doubtful issue);
Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
US scientists with a full-scale cut-away model of the
W48 W48
155-millimeter
Nuclear_artillery Nuclear_artillery
shell, a very small tactical nuclear weapon with an explosive yield equivalent to 72 tons of
Trinitrotoluene Trinitrotoluene
(0.072
Kiloton Kiloton
). It could be fired from any standard 155 mm (6.1 inch)
Howitzer Howitzer
(e.g., the
M114_155_mm_howitzer M114_155_mm_howitzer
or
M198_howitzer M198_howitzer
)




Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Union_of_Soviet_Socialist_Republics Union_of_Soviet_Socialist_Republics
2S3_Akatsiya 2S3_Akatsiya
152mm self-propelled artillery, capable of firing a 'ZBV3' (designated RFYAC-VNIITF) 1 kiloton
Nuclear_artillery Nuclear_artillery
shell a distance of 17.4 km




Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
An American eight-inch W33 nuclear
Artillery_shell Artillery_shell
. This warhead had a number of different yield options (e.g., five kilotons). It could be fired from any standard eight-inch (203mm)
Howitzer Howitzer
(e.g., the
M110_howitzer M110_howitzer
or
M115_howitzer M115_howitzer
)




Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
American MGR-3 Little John missile, measuring 4.4. meters long with a diameter of 32 cms and a weight of 350 kg. Capable of firing a
W45 W45
warhead (10 kiloton yield) a distance of 19 km




Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
French Pluton missile circa 1970s. Capable of firing a 15 kiloton nuclear warhead a distance of 75 miles
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