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Russia Tests World's Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb 632

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-boom dept.
mahesh_gharat writes "Russia has tested the "Father of all bombs," a conventional air-delivered explosive that experts say can only be compared with a nuclear weapon in terms of its destructive power.The device is a fuel-air explosive, commonly known as a vacuum bomb, that spreads a high incendiary vapour cloud over a wide area and then ignites it, creating an ultra-sonic shock wave and searing fireball that destroys everything in its wake."
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Russia Tests World's Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb

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  • Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:12PM (#20582327) Homepage Journal
    Who's your daddy? FOAB! :-)

    Seriously though, Russia has for many decades going back to just after WWII had a predilection for one upping the West in terms of military hardware. They have often defaulted to building bigger engines than just about every other jet fighter (Mig-25), the biggest cargo plane I've ever been in, the An-224 (though there is a bigger 225), bigger submarines (Typhoon class), the Soviet KV Big Turret Tank of 1942 (exception for the German Landkreuzer) and more. Those Bear bombers are pretty damned big aircraft too...

    I'm actually not surprised to see weapons like this developed given the nuclear weapon treaties of the past 40 years, but if the participating members including Russia and the US continue pushing nuclear ambitions, we will have lost all credibility here.

    • by BAlkyMAn (706412) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:16PM (#20582369) Homepage
      Hehe... They say it's environmentally friendly. That is of course, if your environment is not within a mile or two of the blast zone. http://parthian-shot.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:26PM (#20582469) Homepage Journal
        Yes, environmentally friendly in this case means no readiation. So they can come in and rebuild as soon as it cools. With a Russian economy that is growing at 7-8% per year, they are capable of big rebuilding projects, so this is a rather useful weapon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They say it's environmentally friendly.
        Or how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the FOAD.

        -Smiley
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      Do not forget this beauty. [wikipedia.org] The bear bombers are not that big of a deal. Funny thing is that they tu-160 was a bigger version of the B1-A, and of course, the soviet shuttle was a pure copy of the shuttle, but with the engines better placed (on the fuel tank; basically what we are doing now with the Ares V). The soviets, and now Russia and China have long 1 uped us by "Borrowing" items from us. Sadly, many ppl are more than happy to sell out to them for a few million dollars.
      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:39PM (#20582609) Homepage
        The Buran may have been cosmetically almost identical to the Space Shuttle, but functionally, the two couldn't have been more different.

        Look at their feature sets, among other things- the Buran was designed later, had quite a few key design decisions made that increased its design effectiveness immensely, and, sadly, never really flew.

        If the Soviets copied it, they did it by taking pictures of the outside and them using their imaginations to fill in what they thought the inside looked like.
        • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:53PM (#20582733) Journal
          Actually, the russian came out and said that they did in fact have our plans. They were stolen in 75, and according to Russia, did play a part in building their shuttle. But as I pointed out, they made a number of intelligent choices, in particular the changes of the engine placement. I only wish that they had not killed off the energia.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by segedunum (883035)
            Well, the obviously binned those plans as soon as they saw them, because the Buran just couldn't have been more different. The shuttle itself didn't have internal engines, and used the heavy lift platform Energia to get it into space without an internal engine making the whole thing inherently safer. The main engine inside the US shuttle was, and still is, the cause of much concern over maintenance and it just shows you how flawed the US shuttle is when someone comes along, looks at it and is the first thin
            • The biggest problem with the Space Shuttle is that it is mounted sideways on the fuel tank, rather than on top, like a "normal" rocket. Were the shuttle "on top", then you wouldn't have the problem of ice and foam whacking the space plane on lift off, which killed one shuttle and its crew, ultimately, and damaged more.

              Buran had the same problem.

              What Buran excelled in, ironically, was avionics. The Buran could be remotely flown from the ground, so that, they could test it without astronauts. In such a mod
      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by The Bungi (221687) * <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:00PM (#20582805) Homepage

        tu-160 was a bigger version of the B1-A

        The Blackjack might look like the Lancer but it really is a completely different aircraft. Not only is it bigger, it's also heavier, faster and carries a lot more ordnance.

        The Soviet Union designed the TU-160 as a counter weight to the US carrier groups. If WWIII had actually started, those birds were the only thing in their inventory that could effectively counter a Navy task force. In fact their entire strategy for a land war in Europe depended on them interdicting shipping from the US across the GIUK line. The bombers would attack the escort ships with massive conventional cruise missile swarms, or single nuclear ones.

        Bears, Bisons, Backfires and Blackjacks. That's why the Aegis cruisers were designed, and that's why the F-14 Tomcat and the AIM-54 Phoenix were rushed into service.

      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Venik (915777) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:56AM (#20584127)
        Tu-160 has nothing in common with B-1A. To an amateur they may look similar. Tu-160 is considerably larger than B-1A, twice as fast, carries more payload, and has far better range.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arivanov (12034)
        Tu 160 was conceived as a response to the XB-70 Valkyrie, not the Lancer. In fact the design predates the Lancer by a couple of years. This noticeable by the spec - it is a true superpersonic bomber with 2.2+ Mach capability (Lancer just about does 1.1M) . So in this particular case it may be the USA copying USSR and not vice versa.

        As far as using a Tu 160 to perform in this dick measurement contest, this is sabre rattling.

        The bomb is under 10 tons so it can perfectly fit in a TU 95 Bear. The sole reason fo
    • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Informative)

      by badasscat (563442) <`basscadet75' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:21PM (#20582977)
      Seriously though, Russia has for many decades going back to just after WWII had a predilection for one upping the West in terms of military hardware.

      I'm not sure they've really one-upped the US here.

      This is a fuel-air bomb. It would be physically almost impossible for it to have the raw destructive power of the high explosives in the MOAB. Predictably, there are no actual specifications listed for the bomb in the Bloomberg article (ok, I didn't read it all the way through, but usually those things are at the top), just vague assertions like it being the "most powerful fuel air bomb" and "four times more powerful than the MOAB". That could mean a bunch of different things - it has four times the vacuum power? A four times larger radius pressure wave? (Note that fuel air bombs often have larger but slower - and therefore less destructive - pressure waves.) It doesn't mean that it has four times the explosive power of the MOAB, because that would be pretty ridiculous.

      Fuel air bombs look really impressive when they explode but they don't do a hell of a lot of damage. They mostly just char a lot of stuff and clear the area of life. High explosive bombs like the MOAB, by contrast, are just the opposite - they don't look very impressive (no big mushroom cloud) but they do massive amounts of damage. If you're anywhere near a high explosive bomb when it goes off, you may not get burned, but you will end up in about a thousand different pieces, as will everything else around you that isn't buried 100 feet below the ground.

      Nuclear bombs sort of combine the worst effects of both high explosive and fuel air bombs. But if you're going for destructive power in a non-nuclear bomb, a fuel air bomb is not what you want to use.

      • It doesn't mean that it has four times the explosive power of the MOAB, because that would be pretty ridiculous.
        I don't think there's any reason why it couldn't, if by "explosive power" you mean energy release. The Russian device in question is only slightly smaller in size than a MOAB, and probably uses newer, more powerful explosives. Just on those grounds alone, its energy yield is probably about the same or larger. (The fact that the bomb is designed to disperse the explosives into a cloud and then detonate them -- a Fuel Air Device rather than a conventional integrated-mix explosive -- probably doesn't change the energy yield much but has more of an effect on how the blast is actually delivered.)

        Fuel Air Devices aren't really that interesting, from a fundamental engineering standpoint. Scaling them up isn't that hard -- you just add more fuel. Eventually you run into delivery problems. Like the Tsar Bomba (the Russkies giant H-bomb), it's more of a question of priorities than design ability. You can scale a hydrogen bomb up pretty much arbitrarily, by adding more tritium; similarly, FADs can be made bigger simply by adding more fuel and then changing the dispersion calculations accordingly (so that you achieve the right fuel/air mix at the right target altitude). The real question is 'why would you bother?' It's probably easier to drop twice as many bombs of half the size, than one really monster bomb, in most combat scenarios.

        I don't really doubt that you could make a FAD that's bigger than the MOAB. They have more real-world experience in the area than other nations -- they used FADs extensively in Chechnya -- and have shown a propensity in the past for building "the biggest" simply for the penis-length factor. That doesn't mean that the rest of the world should be rushing out to do the same thing, or really care.
      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:4, Informative)

        by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:25PM (#20583487) Homepage
        Most likely you do not want everything destroyed or unhabitable, but your enemies dead is good enough. If you have to send troops to a certain area and want it cleared of your enemy, you throw a fuel-air bomb, you can use a lot of the structures with minor repairs but you won't have much resistance. Throw a nuclear bomb and your enemy is dead but neither can you use that area for anything for the next 10 years. A big explosive device is nice if you want to clear out a bunker or so but usually doesn't go a very large area as far as being lethal/effective.
      • by Angst Badger (8636) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:26PM (#20583505)
        Fuel air bombs look really impressive when they explode but they don't do a hell of a lot of damage. They mostly just char a lot of stuff and clear the area of life.

        Maybe it's just me, but I'd say that anything that can "clear the area of life" counts as doing a hell of a lot of damage.
      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sibko (1036168) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:44AM (#20584057)

        This is a fuel-air bomb. It would be physically almost impossible for it to have the raw destructive power of the high explosives in the MOAB.
        You seem to be under some kind of misconception here. The MOAB is not a conventional high explosive, it is a Thermobaric weapon, or in other words, a Fuel Air Bomb. [Hell, even the name itself spells it out for you: Massive Ordnance Air Blast] The FOAB and MOAB work under exactly the same principles: Namely, the first detonation spreads the fuel over a large area, and then the second detonation ignites all that fuel, causing a massive shockwave.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JumboMessiah (316083)
      I know this is just nitpicking, but I wouldn't call the Mig-25 [wikipedia.org] or it's Turmansky [wikipedia.org] jets a great technological success.

      Yes, the jets may of been able to out run the F-15's of the day, but their maintenance requirements were extraordinary. A high speed run above mach 2 required them to be fully rebuilt. A high speed run above mach 2.8 for more than a few minutes generally resulted in the destruction of the engines.

      That, coupled with the Mig-25's short effective combat radius (~180 miles with full load out), poo
      • Re:Who's your daddy? (Score:4, Informative)

        by SorryTomato (944650) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @03:51AM (#20584949)
        I know this is just nitpicking, but I wouldn't call the Mig-25 or it's Turmansky jets a great technological success.

        I would. A aircraft that can cruise at mach 2.35 and dash at 2.8 making it immune to most threats. Carries multiple long range missiles coupled with a powerful radar. Can take off and land from a dirt strip while being maintained by semi-skilled conscript labour and flown by relatively unskilled pilots counting on its excellent autopilot. Plus cheap enough to mass produce. And all that in the sixties! The Foxbat is an outstanding success outside of Tom Clancy novels.

        Yes, the jets may of been able to out run the F-15's of the day, but their maintenance requirements were extraordinary

        Actually they werent. No more than say the F-14. The soviets just had a different maintanence philosophy.

        A high speed run above mach 2 required them to be fully rebuilt. A high speed run above mach 2.8 for more than a few minutes generally resulted in the destruction of the engines.

        Routine mach 2 flight did not result in the engine having to be being rebuilt.

        That, coupled with the Mig-25's short effective combat radius (~180 miles with full load out), poor maneuverability (typical G loading limited to around 3 depending on fuel and load out), doesn't make it an effective interceptor.

        I don't know where you are getting your numbers but MiG-25 with four missiles and some supersonic flight (few minutes in combat) had a range of about 600 miles. Range under full load is a meaningless term in real life. At maximum weapons load a F-16 runs out of fuel by the time it taxies for takeoff. It doesn't mean that F-16 is a ineffective aircraft in real life.

        And poor maneuverability is a quite acceptable limitation for a interceptor. These aircraft are not intented for dog fights.

        Mig-25's have kills associated with their name, but none have ever intercepted an SR-71 (one task it was designed to handle)

        Actually it wasn't designed to intercept the SR-71, but the high altitude fast bombers like the B-58 and B-70 which it was more than capable of doing.

        In a head on engagement (ie, F-15), their only defense is their speed

        You mean other than their longer ranged missiles or their electronic warfare gear?

        which results in massive maintenance or destruction of the engines.

        Between destroyed engines and engines-destroyed/airframe-destroyed/pilot-dead it would take the former every time. Wouldn't you?

  • Just in time too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:15PM (#20582357)
    Now that Putin's dissolved that pesky and meddlesome parliament, his plans for the Russian conquest can proceed apace.

    First up: Ukraine! Ukraine is weak.
    • by ThePyro (645161) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:26PM (#20582473)

      Now that Putin's dissolved that pesky and meddlesome parliament...


      Indeed! The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away, and no star system will dare oppose Putin after this demonstration of the full power of FOAB. The Rebel alliance will be crushed in one swift stroke!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shbazjinkens (776313)

      First up: Ukraine! Ukraine is weak.
      I COME FROM UKRAINE! YOU NOT SAY UKRAINE WEAK! Ukraine is game to you?! How bout I take your little board and smash it!! [seinfeldscripts.com]
    • Re:Just in time too (Score:5, Informative)

      by DeepHurtn! (773713) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:19PM (#20583445)
      Ugh. You do know that "dissolving the government" is absolutely standard procedure in every parliamentary democracy (ie -- most of the democratic world outside of the the USA)? Overreacting to it just demonstrates the provincialism of the American news system. What's next...? "Oh noes! The Governor-General dissolved the Canadian parliament!!! EVILLL!!!1111eleventy"

      What's interesting is *who* is getting pushed for the elections which will happen soon, not the ordinary and mundane mechanics of parliamentary democracy.

  • INVADE! (Score:5, Funny)

    by phobos13013 (813040) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:16PM (#20582361)
    They have WMD! They harbor terrorists!

    Seriously? Isn't it ironic that MOTHER Russia built the FATHER of all BOMBS to outdo UNCLE SAM's MOTHER of all Bombs? Its almost mind-blowing...
    • by OakDragon (885217) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:28PM (#20582493) Journal
      Don't worry - the US will soon respond with their "Alcoholic Step-Dad of All Bombs."
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And the only thing it fears, the mother-in-law of all bombs.
      • by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@nosPAM.mindless.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:37PM (#20583081) Journal
        the US will soon respond with their "Alcoholic Step-Dad of All Bombs."

        Paving the way for a whole dysfunctional family of bombs.

        Pervy uncle of all bombs: only targets children.

        Crack whore daughter of all bombs: readily detonates for anyone at any time, but very cheap.

        Emo-kid of all bombs: ill-fitting black casing, sits in the bomb bay sulking, threatens to go off in an overly dramatic manner "to make everyone sorry" without realising that's why the other bombs won't talk to it in the first place. When one actually does go off (which is rare), nobody notices or cares except the over-protective MOAB.

        Third cousin twice removed of all bombs: everybody has one but nobody can ever recall it's name, only explodes at weddings and funerals.

        Grandfather of all bombs: guarantees lawn-area supremacy.
      • by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:48PM (#20583187) Homepage Journal

        Don't worry - the US will soon respond with their "Alcoholic Step-Dad of All Bombs."

        ... And Canada will contribute to the project by creating the Stern Maiden Aunt of All Detonators.

    • Re:INVADE! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by religious freak (1005821) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:33PM (#20582543)
      Russia refers to their inanimate objects as masculine, the US feminine, and Germany as "it". It has always been such, for whatever reason.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tftp (111690)
        Russia refers to their inanimate objects as masculine

        This is not correct; there is no such rule, and you can find words of all genders for inanimate objects (kamen':m, bomba:f, okno:n)

        Yes the word for a bomb has feminine gender, this readily disproves your theory.

  • Buzzword compliant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Breakfast Pants (323698) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:16PM (#20582365) Journal

    It is environmentally friendly, compared to a nuclear bomb, and it will enable us to ensure national security and at the same time stand up to international terrorism in any part of the globe and in any situation,
    Two of the biggest buzzwords: "environmentally friendly" and "international terrorism". Neither of which apply to this bomb. Can you really fight terrorists with giant bombs?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ResidntGeek (772730)
      Of course you can't fight terrorists with giant bombs. You'd also have a hard time being entertained by reality TV or by taking high doses of a CNS depressant, but America sure as hell tries.
      • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:43PM (#20583139) Homepage Journal
        Sure you can, if you don't mind a few casualties. The Russians seem to have a liberal policy about random deaths in terrorism matters.

        Example: when 32 Chechnyen separatists took over the Beslan School and had 1200 hostages ( several hundred of them children ), Russian security forces used tanks ( firing - according to one of the tank comander's testimony - "antipersonnel-high explosive shells" ), flamethrowers, and at least one Mi-24 helicopter gunship.
        At least 334 hostages died, and approximately 700 were wounded.

        This is a weapon for political control as much as for war. They already have more nukes than they can reasonably use. What is the point of building a non-radiactive bomb this powerful? The only reason seems to be so you can retake the territory soon after. They're going to use it on their own territory.
    • by Tatarize (682683) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:26PM (#20582475) Homepage
      Of course! You can fight anything with bombs. Just have all the terrorists stand under it... including all the people who want this bomb to be really scary... and boom! You want to fight deer overpopulation? Just have the deer stand under it. You want to fight republicanism? Christianity? Kangaroos? -- You could have pretty much anything you want dead stand under this sucker and the problem would be done.

      *Places all dishes under bomb*
      *detonate*
      The dishes are done man!
    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:43PM (#20582643)
      "Can you really fight terrorists with giant bombs?"

      Of course you can, very easily. But then you end up with another of those catch phrases: collateral damage.
    • by TTK Ciar (698795) * on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:14AM (#20583887) Homepage Journal

      Can you really fight terrorists with giant bombs?

      The Russians seem to think so. [wikipedia.org]

      In 1999, the Russian Army evacuated the city of Grozny of civilians, leaving (obstensibly) only the dug-in insurgents in the city. Russian forces then cordoned the city and laid waste to it with massive barrages of fuel-air munitions, delivered via TOS-1 [globalsecurity.org]. The city was totally destroyed.

      That was using Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE's), which use aerosolized hydrocarbon-based fuel. Judging from the mass-to-yeild ratio reported for this new bomb (~5.5x that of TNT) [miamiherald.com], it's an aluminum-based thermobaric munition. Thermobarics use aluminum (or less commonly boron) based fuel, distributed and usually detonated by high explosive charge. Compared to fuel-air bombs this results in greater reliability, more energy released per unit mass, and much more energy released per unit volume (since 75% aluminum + 25% composition-B HE is about 2.5x denser than hydrocarbon-based fuels).

      For what it's worth: (1) the old-generation american fuel-air explosives used ethylene oxide as their fuel, which increased reliability but at the expense of energy density. (2) the american armed forces have aluminum-based thermobaric munitions in their inventories, too.

      And yeah, comparing FAE's and thermobarics to nukes is misleading. Thermobarics can offer up to ~8x the energy density of conventional high explosives, but even small nukes generate thousands times more boom per unit weight. Nukes are the cheap and easy way to destroy a city, but the Russians decided the political price would be too high, and used FAE's instead (which are much cheaper than equivalent-yield high explosives, but nowhere nearly as cheap per unit yield as nukes).

      -- TTK

  • N bomb! (Score:4, Funny)

    by etherelithic (846901) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:18PM (#20582393) Homepage
    It just might be enough to destroy the Angels that are a'comin' in 2015!
  • Mostly useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:21PM (#20582411)
    This type of bomb is mostly ueseful for chest-thumping. It cannto be used in any situation were you cannot commit atrocities. It has unreliable yield. This seems to be manly a gesture by the current primitives in the Kremlin that is intended to tell the world, that they still are a global power. Pathetic, really.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
      Russia is so worried about atrocities, too.

      http://www.robert-fisk.com/russian_atrocities.htm [robert-fisk.com] NSFW
    • Mostly useful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by javacowboy (222023)
      Has it ever occurred to you that Russia could be using these bombs to:

      a) Sell to other countries.
      b) Act as a counter-balance to U.S. global hegemony.

      No, of course you haven't.

      As for Russia being a superpower, they're getting closer to that status everyday, now that they actually have a competent leader.
      • Re:Mostly useful (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:32PM (#20583049)
        Has it ever occurred to you that Russia could be using these bombs to:

        a) Sell to other countries.
        b) Act as a counter-balance to U.S. global hegemony.

        No, of course you haven't.


        Oh, but it has. Unfortunately they are completely useless for both purposes. Which, incidentially, is quite obvious.
  • Ohhh, shiny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Bungi (221687) * <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:23PM (#20582439) Homepage
    This is nothing more than a large thermobaric device. Very few people call them "vacuum bombs" anymore. It's not the same technology as the US Air Force's "MOAB", which uses semi-conventional explosives. I bet it's also unstable as hell.

    These weapons are nothing more than grandiose show-offs with alleged dubious psychological effects. They're not going to launch one of these on an ICBM any time soon, unless Russia started using Antonovs as ICBMs while I was on vacation.

    This is the military equivalent of having a nuclear warhead that has to be set off with a match. Flashy but completely useless.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:25PM (#20582461) Journal
    One of the great military advantages of modern nuclear devices is that they pack an enormous amount of power into a relatively small space. A small nuke can be made to sizes no bigger than conventional bombs, so the bombers/missile/icbm can carry a lot of them. They also scale very well, every small amount you can increase in size allows for a huge increase in power, normal bombs have a more linear scale. This thing must be huge since there has to be more conventional explosive packed into it to get the same effect, this limits the amount they can produce and carry. It's probably too big to be easily fit onto an ICBM, and if you could there'd probably be just the one warhead instead of the dozens that can be carried with a nuclear configuration.

    This is just another example in Russia's long history of impressive, unwieldy, and impractically large weapons. The Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever created and tested by man (even at half it's theoretical strength) broke windows hundreds of miles away and registered on seismic instruments all over the world even though it was detonated in Northern Russia.
    • by The Bungi (221687) * <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:46PM (#20582677) Homepage
      It must be somewhere around 7-8 metric tons or so. I believe they dropped it from a bomber, which they must have had to modify to carry something like that - either the external hardpoints would have to be re-inforced or the internal bomb bay mechanisms pretty much ripped out. I wonder if they had a guy back there with scissors, ready to cut the strings holding it up.

      And you're right, large devices are mostly useless, whether they are nuclear or conventional. That's why both the US and USSR stopped making multi-megaton bombs and started creating MIRVed payload ICBMs and SLBMs to deliver multiple smaller devices.

      A radial airburst of 6-7 nuclear warheads in the 200-300KT range is *much* more destructive than a single 20MT bomb. That's the nuclear doctrine for both Russia and the US for large counter-population or counter-value targets, and has been for the past thirty years or so. The large bombs went out of style in the late 60s along with the hippies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Of course, the Tsar Bomba is just a successor to the Tsar Bell [wikipedia.org] (which broke apart and has never been rung) and the Tsar Cannon [wikipedia.org] (which has never been fired). So you have to commend Russia for actually detonating the Tsar Bomba.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:32PM (#20582541)

    Having a President who gleefully revels in anti-intellectualism has its consequences, fellow citizens.

    • Increased military aggressiveness by the US abroad has scared Russia into reactionary military posturing.
    • Building bases in Eastern Bloc countries has made Putin's militarism popular with its citizens and a source of nationalism.
    • US attempts to expand our missile shield closer are negating Russia's nuclear deterrence. The only rational response is for Russia to expand its nuclear arsenal.
    • Insane Iraq policies driving up oil prices have given Russia the cash flow to not have to worry about democratic and economic reforms. The economic pressure is what led to the collapse of the USSR in the first place.

    But, hey who cares! Freedom's on the march!

    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:44PM (#20582659)
      Son, I can't for the life of me understand a word of whatever it is you're going on about. All your M's and W's look the same to me.


      -FL

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Blaming Putin's returning Russia to old-school Imperialism on Bush distracts from the real issues facing Russia. You could blame Putin's crackdown on the media and the murders of journalists and other opponents on Bush too if you wanted, but it'd be just as short sighted. There are many things to attack Bush for, but the decline of Russia isn't one of them.
  • by snikulin (889460) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:36PM (#20582569)
    It's on Russian TV news channel web site:
    http://www.1tv.ru/news/n108915 [1tv.ru]
    To play, click on a bomb's image in the right upper corner shown after flash loading.

  • by eli pabst (948845) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:36PM (#20582573)
    The Russians are gearing up for their own version of "Shock and Awesky"
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:40PM (#20582611) Homepage

    France is planning to test Le Grand-père de Toutes les Bombes next week.

    The week after that North Korea is threatening to test indoor plumbing.

  • by DreadSpoon (653424) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:40PM (#20582617) Journal
    It doesn't pollute the environment... it just incinerates it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SlappyBastard (961143)
      That may have been the scariest part of the whole article. Since when do the Russians care about the environment?
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:45PM (#20582667)

    preads a high incendiary vapour cloud over a wide area and then ignites it, creating an ultra-sonic shock wave and searing fireball that destroys everything in its wake.

    Here's a slightly more accurate description of what it does....to people.

    • People unlucky enough to be within the actual fuel-air mixture area are set on fire, both internally (lungs- they breathe in the fuel/air mixture) and externally (the infrared radiation immediately ignites their clothing, hair, and skin) while suffocating. That's pretty much the most painful way to die, hands down, that I can think of.
    • Anyone within the shockwave and following vacuum is liable to either be thrown against other objects or be crushed by them, or structures that collapse. This is the greatest hope you have, as it is the quickest potential way to die.
    • Anyone unfortunate enough to not be burned alive or crushed, will suffer from the pain of blown eardrums and collapsed or burst lungs, while simultaneously suffocating because all the air around them is devoid of oxygen; the fire consumed it. Oh, and everything around you that is flammable is burning whatever oxygen might be left.

    They're indiscriminate and quite possibly the cruelest way of killing people save WW1-era chemical attacks.

    The fact that the US and Russia are the only countries to use and develop them should speak volumes.

  • A "vacuum bomb"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:54PM (#20582741)

    The device is a fuel-air explosive, commonly known as a vacuum bomb...


    Nah...that type of thing is more widely known as a fuel-air explosive. Even my old flight sims from the late 1980s called them that. (Even back then the common target was Iran...)

  • by Von Rex (114907) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:58PM (#20582783)
    Comparing these things to nukes really underestimates the power of a nuke. Consider the wikipedia entry on the Moab [wikipedia.org].

    It's got a yield of 11 tons of TNT. That means the Hiroshima bomb, at approximately 15 kilotons, was about 1300 times stronger. And a Minuteman ICBM, at 1.2 megatons, is 109,000 times stronger. The Tsar Bomba weapon had a yield equal to about 40 Minutemen, or around 4.4 million Moabs.

    I know there's additional factors when it comes to amount of destruction inflicted, but still, it's clear that these fuel-air devices are a drop in the ocean compared to a nuke.

    The phrase "weapon of mass destruction" annoys me because it equates so many lesser things with nukes, which are, in my opinion, the only WMD, other than perhaps a really vicious plague weapon the likes of which we haven't yet seen.
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Funny)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:01PM (#20582809)
    Hollywood has built far larger bombs. One of the largest was named Pluto Nash. Not many people have heard of it inspite of it not being a secret project. Smaller tactical bombs were created by the likes of Pauly Shore. Not as powerful but equally devasting at killing 90 minutes of your life.
  • Money Shot? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Internet Ronin (919897) <internet.ronin@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:40PM (#20583099)
    And the money shot is where Russia claims that it doesn't believe this clear weapons-based pissing contest won't result in another arms race...

    I can't tell if that statement is a.) a lie or b.) the result of extreme stupidity.

    Clearly if they saw who was in the White House, or I don't know, maybe studied the past 200 years of American history, they'd have a pretty good idea that this would probably trigger an arms race... How often does America like to have its arsenal out-done by foreigners? How often is that translated into leverage used by politicians to justify further military spending?

    Well, anyways, kudos Russia! Here's to the apocalypse...
  • by professorfalcon (713985) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:09PM (#20583353)
    This bomb made Chuck Norris sneeze.
  • by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:11PM (#20583373) Homepage
    The US's latest bomb [wikipedia.org] is going in the entirely opposite direction - a much smaller, more accurate weapon.

    As others have noted, you generally get much more militarily useful effect with multiple small weapons rather than one large one.

  • overlordski (Score:3, Funny)

    by Eil (82413) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:30AM (#20583971) Homepage Journal
    I, for one, welcome our new Russian.... wait, what year is it?
  • by revengebomber (1080189) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @03:05AM (#20584763)
    The bomb, George. The fuel-air bomb. Well now what happened is, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of, well he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little... funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes... to attack your country. Well let me finish, George. Let me finish, George. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, George? Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello? Of course I like to speak to you. Of course I like to say hello. Not now, but any time, George. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It's a friendly call.
  • what a waste (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Errtu76 (776778) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @03:33AM (#20584877) Journal
    Seriously, spending so much time, effort, money and resources on something so utterly useless. Think about the possibilities of where this all would be better spent on. I know this comment will probably inspire a lot of morons to reply that it _is_ useful, or even more moronic 'jokes' from people who simply have no clue of what they're saying.

    And isn't this a country that could use every penny to help their own people? Really sad, and pointless. I love to hear a good motivation why it would be useful. I can't think of any. And let's be honest, the only use for a bomb of this size would be death and destruction. Makes me so sad to think about it. Wars are useless too.

    I love this quote and believe it with my entire soul: "What you resist persists. - Carl Jung"

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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