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," news agency Reuters reported in 2007 quoting Russian media reports.
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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