Vacuum bomb: what happens if it explodes

Vacuum bomb: what happens if it explodes

Vacuum or thermobaric bombit is almost as powerful as nuclear ammunition. But unlike the latter, its use does not threaten with radiation and a global environmental catastrophe.

Coal dust

The first test of a vacuum charge was carried out in 1943 by a group of German chemists led by Mario Zippermayr. The principle of operation of the device prompted accidents at the mills and in the mines, where volume explosions often occur. That is why ordinary coal dust was used as an explosive. The fact is that by that time, fascist Germany had already experienced a serious shortage of explosives, primarily TNT. However, this idea could not be brought to real production.

In general, the term “vacuum bomb” is not a technical point of view. In fact, it is a classic thermobaric weapon in which fire spreads under great pressure.Like most explosives, it is a fuel-oxidative premix. The difference is that in the first case the explosion comes from a point source, and in the second - the front of the flame covers a significant amount. All this is accompanied by a powerful shock wave. For example, when on December 11, 2005, a voluminous explosion occurred in the empty storage of the oil terminal in Hertfordshire (England), then 150 km from the epicenter people woke up because glass was rattling in the windows.

Vacuum bomb: what happens if it explodes

What thermobaric weapons used in Vietnam - in the photo the famous bomb BLU-82

Vietnamese experience

For the first time, thermobaric weapons were used in Vietnam for clearing the jungle, primarily for helicopter landing sites. The effect was stunning. It was enough to drop three or four such explosive devices of volumetric action, and the Iroquois helicopter could land in the most unexpected places for the partisans.

In fact, it was a 50-liter high-pressure cylinder, with a brake parachute, which opened at a height of thirty meters. About five meters from the ground, the squib ruptured the shell, and a gas cloud was formed under pressure, which exploded.At the same time, the substances and mixtures used in the air-to-air bombs were not something special. These were common methane, propane, acetylene, ethylene oxide and propylene.
Soon, by experiment, it turned out that thermobaric weapons have tremendous destructive power in confined spaces, for example in tunnels, in caves, and in bunkers, but are not suitable in windy weather, under water, and at high altitude. There were attempts to use large-caliber thermobaric shells in the Vietnamese war, but they were not effective.

Thermobaric death

On February 1, 2000, immediately after another test of the thermobaric bomb by Human Rights Watch, a CIA expert, described its operation as follows: “The focus of a three-dimensional explosion is unique and extremely dangerous for life. First, people who have a lesion in the affected area are exposed to a high pressure of a burning mixture, and then a vacuum, in fact a vacuum, tearing the lungs. All this is accompanied by severe burns, including internal burns, as many have time to inhale the fuel-oxidative premix. ”

However, with the light hand of journalists, this weapon was called a vacuum bomb.Interestingly, in the 90s of the last century, some experts believed that people who died from a “vacuum bomb” seemed to be in space. They say that as a result of the explosion, oxygen instantly burnt out, and for some time an absolute vacuum was formed. Thus, military expert Terry Garder from Jane's magazine reported on the use of a “vacuum bomb” by Russian troops against Chechen militants in the area of ​​the village of Semashko. His report said that the dead had no external damage, and died from a rupture of the lungs.

Vacuum bomb: what happens if it explodes

The action of the vacuum bomb is based on the effect of a volumetric explosion.

The second after the atomic bomb

Seven years later, on September 11, 2007, the thermobaric bomb started talking as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon. “The test results of the created aviation munitions showed that it is comparable in its effectiveness and capabilities with a nuclear munition,” said the former head of the GOU, Colonel-General Alexander Rukshin. It was about the most destructive in the world of innovative thermobaric weapons.

The new Russian aviation ammunition was four times more powerful than the largest American vacuum bomb.Pentagon experts immediately stated that the Russian data were exaggerated, at least twice. A spokesman for US President George W. Bush, Dana Perino, at a briefing on September 18, 2007 on a stinging question, what the Americans would answer to the Russian attack, said that for the first time he hears about it.

Meanwhile, John Pike from the Analytical Center GlobalSecurity, agrees with the declared power, which Alexander Rukshin spoke about. He wrote: “Russian military and scientists were pioneers in the development and use of thermobaric weapons. This is a new history of weapons. ” If nuclear weapons are a priori deterrent due to the possibility of radioactive contamination, then super-power thermobaric bombs, he said, will most likely be used by hot heads of generals from different countries.

Vacuum bomb: what happens if it explodes

In the photo: Russian high-power vacuum bomb.

Humane killer

In 1976, the UN adopted a resolution in which weapons of volumetric action were called "an inhuman means of warfare, causing excessive human suffering." However, this document is not mandatory and does not explicitly prohibit the use of thermobaric bombs.That is why from time to time in the media there are reports of "vacuum bombings." So on August 6, 1982, an Israeli plane attacked American-made thermobaric ammunition with Libyan troops. More recently, the Telegraph reported on the use of a high-explosive air bomb in the city of Raqqa by the Syrian military, resulting in the death of 14 people. And although this attack was not made by chemical weapons, the international community demands a ban on the use of thermo-pressure weapons in cities.

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