Enhanced Blast Weapon

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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."[1]

"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."[2]

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."[3] The "EBW blast can propagate around, into, under and over objects where the straight-line travel of fragments from Western weapons is ineffective."[4] "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."[5]

"Combined heat and pressure kill people over a wide area by sucking the air out of lungs and destroying internal organs."[1] "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."[6]

After it was reported that in 1999 Russian had used "Vacuum Bombs" in Chechnya, in February 2000 Human Rights Watch wrote a backgrounder on the use of such fuel-air explosives:[3]

"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."[3]



Also see

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Richard Norton-Taylor, "Army gets new 'enhanced blast' weapon to fight Taliban," The Guardian (UK), August 23, 2007.
  2. Ian Bruce, "US defends missiles that razed Falluja," Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited (GlobalSecurity.org), November 23, 2005.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Backgrounder on Russian Fuel Air Explosives ('Vacuum Bombs')," Human Rights Watch, February 2000.
  4. "Force Protection Against Enhanced Blast TDP," Defence Research and Development (Canada), last updated August 15, 2007.
  5. "Update: Enhanced-Blast/Thermobaric Weapons for General Infantry and SPECOPS," Defense Review, July 28, 2007.
  6. Dr. Anna E. Wildegger-Gaissmaier, "Aspects of thermobaric weaponry," ADF Health, Vol 4 (Australia), April 2003.
  7. "Metal Storm Limited -- CEO Bulletin," Marketwire.com, August 17, 2007.

External articles