Enhanced Blast Weapon
Enhanced Blast Weapons (EBW) based on thermobaric technology—also referred to as lightweight anti-structure missiles (ASM) and Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE)—are being used by British soliders in Afghanistan "to attack Taliban fighters more effectively" and have been "used by the US against suspected al-Qaida and Taliban underground bases."
"Experimental missiles ... designed by a US naval research centre at Indian Head, Maryland ... capable of collapsing buildings and incinerating or entombing their occupants were used by US Marines during [the 2004] assault on Falluja. ... Thermobaric warheads destroyed homes which had been turned into heavily fortified strongholds by insurgents in the Iraqi city."
How EBW work
"Blast explosives kill or injure in three ways: with the blast wave; with flying debris or by collapsing buildings; and by the blast wind throwing bodies against the ground, equipment, structures, and other stationary objects." The "EBW blast can propagate around, into, under and over objects where the straight-line travel of fragments from Western weapons is ineffective." "The big push now," David Crane wrote in Defense Review, is "for thermobaric/enhanced-blast munitions that incorporate a penetrative capability so it will first penetrate a structure/material and then deflagrate behind it, neutralizing anyone inside."
"Combined heat and pressure kill people over a wide area by sucking the air out of lungs and destroying internal organs." "Each tissue type, when interacting with a blast wave, is compressed, stretched, sheared or disintegrated by overload according to its material properties. Internal organs that contain air (sinuses, ears, lungs and intestines) are particularly vulnerable to blast."
- "FAE weapons are effective against exposed personnel, combat equipment, fortified areas and individual defensive fortifications, clearing passages in minefields, clearing landing sites for helicopters, destroying communication centers, and neutralizing strongholds in house-to-house fighting in a city ... 'fuel-air explosives are capable…of completely destroying in a given area vegetation and agricultural crops that have been planted.' 'In its destructive capability, it is comparable to low-yield nuclear munitions'," according to the Russian military magazine Voyennyye Znaniya (Military Knowledge).
"Fuel-air explosives were first developed, and used in Vietnam, by the United States. Soviet scientists, however, quickly developed their own FAE weapons, which were reportedly used against China in a 1969 border conflict and in Afghanistan." According to Human Rights Watch, in 2000 "Russian forces [fielded] a wide array of third-generation FAE warheads."
References and notes
- Richard Norton-Taylor, "Army gets new 'enhanced blast' weapon to fight Taliban," The Guardian (UK), August 23, 2007.
- Ian Bruce, "US defends missiles that razed Falluja," Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited (GlobalSecurity.org), November 23, 2005.
- "Backgrounder on Russian Fuel Air Explosives ('Vacuum Bombs')," Human Rights Watch, February 2000.
- "Force Protection Against Enhanced Blast TDP," Defence Research and Development (Canada), last updated August 15, 2007.
- "Update: Enhanced-Blast/Thermobaric Weapons for General Infantry and SPECOPS," Defense Review, July 28, 2007.
- Dr. Anna E. Wildegger-Gaissmaier, "Aspects of thermobaric weaponry," ADF Health, Vol 4 (Australia), April 2003.
- "Metal Storm Limited -- CEO Bulletin," Marketwire.com, August 17, 2007.
- David Hambling, "Deadly blast from the past. ... on how to flatten a forest and stir up a political storm," The Guardian (UK), January 18, 2001.
- "The Threat from Blast Weapons," The Army Training and Doctrine Bulletin (Canada), Vol 4, Fall 2001.
- Navy Lt. David Gai, "New weapons prove successful in Nevada tests," Site Lines/U.S. Department of Energy, May 2002.
- Gabriele Rennie, "A New Generation of Munitions," Science & Technology/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, July/August 2003.
- David Hambling, "Experts fear terrorists are seeking fuel-air bombs," New Scientist, March 21, 2004.
- Jeffrey P. Garner, et al., "Prediction of Upper Airway Closure in Inhalational Injury," Military Medicine (FindArticles.com), August 2005.
- "SMAW Novel Explosive (SMAW-NE)," Global Security, November 27, 2005.
- David Hambling, "Thermobaric Foes: Explosive Threat," Defense Tech, November 28, 2005.
- David Eshel, "Is the world facing Thermobaric Terrorism? The not so distant threat could involve a new terrorist weapon: the Thermobaric bomb," Defense Update, January 24, 2006.
- David Hambling, "Thermobarics All Over," Defense Tech, August 1, 2006.
- Nick Paton Walsh, "Britain's controversial weapons," Channel4.com, August 20, 2007.
- David Hambling, "Britain's Thermobaric Secret," WIRED, August 22, 2007.
- Andrew Chuter, "British Acquire Anti-Building Munition," DefenseNews.com, August 23, 2007.
- "There are no thermobaric weapons in service with the British Army and we have no plans to procure any," Postman Patel Blogspot, August 23, 2007.
- John Byrne, "British Army deploys new weapon based on mass-killing technology," The Raw Story, August 23, 2007.
- markthshark, "Don’t Shoot‘em: Just Suck the Air Out of Their Lungs!!" The Daily Kos, August 24, 2007.