Category Archives: Bombs

Bombs explosives, and Military Incindiaries

Small Diameter Bomb – GBU-39


The GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb – the future of ultra-surgical air strikes.

Since the days of the first Gulf War, when it became clear to the world that precision air strikes would be the “go to” option for the opening rounds of nearly any theater scale military operations, the technology of precision guided munitions has increased rapidly.  We have witnessed bombs being guided into their targets by lasers, GPS, and even a human watching through a camera on the nose of the weapon.  Once the concept of precision guidance was no longer a novelty, the virtuous auspices of limiting collateral damage and economic efficiency have led military planners and weapons designers to push the envelope of precision weapon technology even further.

During the Desert Storm era, the smallest precision bombs available packed 500 lb high-explosive warheads, and the 500 pounder was typically used on only the smallest of targets.  They certainly were precise enough on surgical targeting, but the massive explosion and pressure wave still causes widespread devastation to buildings and well, people, that are in the vicinity of the blast.  Now I’m not saying that it’s ever goign to be possible to truly eliminate collateral damage, but I believe technology has reached a stopping point concerning precision-guided air-launched munitions.  It’s not as if limiting collateral damage is such a bad thing after all; so I guess we can go ahead and bestow the honorable hallmark characteristic of the next wave of precision munitions:  Efficiency…because accuracy is a given.

Fresh on the block is the new GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.  The GBU-39 is the first 250 lb class precision guided munition, and is not only intended to allow the pilot to strike more targets per sortie, but also to -you guessed it- limit collateral damage.  A full rack of GBU-39s, 4 bombs total, can easily take the place of one 2000 lb GBU 109 “bunker buster” guided bomb on typical strike platforms such as the F-15C or F-22 Raptor aircraft.  While the 2000 lb GBU-109 penetrator definitely retains its place as a select weapon of choice for large and hardended targets, the GBU-39 SDB surpasses the GBU-109 in many different realms of performance.  For starters, the GBU-39 also has significant stand-off capabilities.  With it’s guidance wings, the bomb can coast into targets from far greater ranges than the GBU-109, from more than 40 nautical miles out.  Likewise, the design of the warhead also allows the Small Diameter Bomb to achieve the same penetration capabilities of it’s much larger 2000 lb counterpart.  All in all, the SMB GBU-39 allows for a great amount of flexibility for whomever is designing strike missions for an urban environment.
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Not only does the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb limit it’s size to only 250 lbs, it also can be fitted with different types of warheads, one of which is specially designed to limit the blast radius and shockwave of the explosion.  This new explosive is called D.I.M.E., short for Dense Inert Metal Explosive.  DIME explosives basically combine a powder of inert metals–inert means that the metal is resistant to chemical reactions–into the explosive, which essentially weighs down the blast.  The explosive ignites, but the metal powder will only fly so far before air resistance and gravity will slow it down.  DIME explosives are proven to limit the blast radius of explosions, but they are also notorious for the effects that they can have on personnel.  Decapitations, dismemberments, and even cancer later down the line caused by the imbedded metal powder are all facts of life when DIME is deployed.  i guess the counter-point is that those folks were at the wrong place at the wrong time, especially under the known threat of air raids.

Fast forward to Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas regime in Gaza, and you’ve got the exact scenario where this weapon is intended to be used.  A crowded urban environment, where military targets are amorphous among the civilian landscape, and limiting collateral damage is essential to maintaining some semblance of self-restraint, saw small diameter bombs being deployed in large numbers.  Indeed, reports have come out of Gaza of people suffering the effects of DIME explosives, but the IDF remains deflective about admitting to their use.  The use of the GBU-39 that isn’t debated is the penetrator version being deployed against the smuggling tunnels at the Rafah crossing.  The IDF deployed multiple GBU-39 penetetrators along the lengths of the tunnels, essentially burying them in successive sections.
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Father of All Bombs?

father of all bombs If you are a regular here at Future Firepower then I am sure you have heard of the MOAB or Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, coined the Mother of All Bombs. The MOAB is an eight ton non-nuclear weapon with a 450 foot blast radius. What you might not have heard is that Russia has recently unveiled the “Father of All Bombs” which is said to have a 900 foot blast radius, double what the MOAB boasts. Until the Russian military unveiled the FOAB the MOAB was the largest non-nuclear bomb in the world. The center of the explosion created by the Father of All Bombs is reported to be twice as hot as MOAB as well. The Russian military apparently created a weapon roughly the same size as the MOAB with twice the power! So it looks like the Russians have one-upped the American military’s largest non-nuclear weapon… or have they?

There are a lot of skeptics that believe the Father of All Bombs may just be a big hoax. The Russian military claimed the bomb was dropped from a Tupolev 160 bomber although the bomb and the aircraft where never seen in the same video. Recall that the MOAB is usually dropped out of a much larger C-130 or equivalent. “You’ve got to approach Russian claims with skepticism,” says John Pike, an analyst at the think tank

Wired has a great article regarding inconsistencies in the video and the claims made by the Russian military. Psychological warfare?

Check out this video of the Russian Father of All Bombs

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Thermobaric Weapon – Explosive Fuel-Air Bombs

faeanimClick on the Thumbnail to view the animation.
There are many different types of Thermobaric weapons, it is the destructive concept that renders Thermobarics different than conventional high explosives.  Rather than a simple bomb with high explosives in the warhead, thermobaric weapons, or fuel-air bombs, are predominantly filled with either an aerosol or powder of a high explosive mixture.  The bomb has 2 charges, the first to blow away the casing and release the aerosol cloud, and the second to detonate the cloud.  This 2 stage method renders the size of the blast to be drastically larger in diameter than conventional high explosives, which dramatically increases the shockwave and heat created by the explosion.  These weapons are the most powerful bombs besides nuclear weapons, common examples are the MOAB and “Daisy Cutter” bomb, the latter is popularly displayed twice in the awesome movie Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman (in the opening scene and ending scenes).  Also known as vacuum bombs, they are also used on building and caves because of their ability to collapse structures.  The shockwave and subsequent dramatic overpressure created by the intense heat of the explosion draws in oxygen so fast that it literally sucks in anything in its radius, be it cave walls or walls of a structure.  Thermobarics have seen widespread use in the caves of Afghanistan, and smaller versions are also becoming more widespread with applications from hand grenades to rocket launchers. 

Al-Qaeda Training – Air-Strike Attack on Al Qaeda

The US air-force put a stop to Al qaeda’s heavy weapons training real quick in the video below. Several insurgents were killed in this air attack during a training mission in May of 2007. Anti aircraft fire and other munitions can be seen during the surveillance of the al-qaeda base. There was speculation that al-qaeda was training for an attack on coalition forces. Thanks to good intelligence, the plans of these insurgents were foiled before they were given a chance!

U.S. military officials in Baghdad said that coalition forces killed an estimated 10 to 14 insurgents and captured eight others after they were spotted firing a truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun at a farmhouse northeast of Karmah. The military said intelligence reports and surveillance of a known al-Qaida in Iraq meeting spot led troops to discover three trucks, two of which were mounted with anti-aircraft artillery weapons. The vehicles were followed, and after the insurgents started firing the guns at two houses, it was determined that they were practicing for possible future attacks against coalition troops, according to a Multi-National Forces-Iraq news release.

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Slow-Motion MLRS Video – Rocket

MLRS breakdownThe video below shows the multiple Launch Rocket System developed by Lockheed Martin in action in slow motion. The Guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket is being developed under an international cooperative program with the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany. GMLRS will have a global positioning system aided inertial guidance package integrated in a rocket body. Additionally, small canards on the guided rocket nose will add basic maneuverability to further enhance the accuracy of the system.

Click here to open the video in a new Window

For more information about the MLRS or Multiple launch rocket System check out another video and post here.

Hunter UAV Airstrike – Viper Air Attack on Vehicle

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)

Viper Strike
The Viper is a standoff munition guided by GPS and laser-guidance. The Viper is primarily used in missions that require a flexible angle of attack, either steep or shallow. The weapon is produced by Northrop Grumann’s Land Combat Systems Facility in Alabama. This particular Viper Standoff munition requires a man to lase the target either from the UAV itself where the missile is fired from, or from the ground. The Viper is similar to the Hellfire missile used in the Predator UAV by the US air-force. The Vipers warhead is smaller than the Hellfires and the Vipers platform is the Hunter RQ-5A UAV. The Hunter is similar to the predator although its functionality is more limited.

Hunter UAV airstrike with Viper Munition
Check out an awesome Video Here, Please allow time to load as the video is somewhat large

The MQ-5CE-Hunter has been developed for longer endurance and higher-altitude missions.

Hunter 1

The Viper Munition is being tested with a variety of different platforms including AC-130 Gunships and even the notorious Predator. The video below shows the incredible power of the Viper in Combination with the Hunter UAV.

X-51 Hypersonic Cruise Missile – Fastest Cruise Missile

Imagine having the ability to strike anywhere in the world within one hour. The X-51 is an amazing hypersonic cruise missile that travels 600 miles in just ten minutes (approximately 3600 MPH or Mach 5).

x 51 cruise missile

Compared with the Tomahawk Missile which travels at a mere 550 MPH, the X51 gives the US the ability to strike enemies quickly before they can evade. As U.S. Strategic Command’s deputy commander Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler puts it, the goal of the X51 is “to strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes.”

The power of this weapon once it reaches its unfortunate target is amazing.

Traveling as fast as 13,000 mph, the warheads are filled with scored tungsten rods with twice the strength of steel. Just above the target, the warheads detonate, showering the area with thousands of rods-each one up to 12 times as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet. Anything within 3000 sq. ft. of this whirling, metallic storm is obliterated.

The X-51 Will be the most advanced cruise / long distance missile in the world when it is completed, although there have been protests that the X-51 could trigger a nuclear war. A test run of this weapon in 2008 could appear to be heading toward another nuclear power during portions of its flight pattern which could be provoking. More about this concept can be read at Popular Mechanics

Excalibur – Smart Artillery Round – Fire and Forget XM982 – 155MM

Manufacturers: Raytheon [NYSE: RTN] and General Dynamics [NYSE: GD]

excalibur2The Excalibur is the newest development in Military artillery technology and precision guided munitions. Also known as the M982 ER DPICM (Extended Range Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions) Projectile, the Excallibur is a smart artillery round that has an integrated GPS tracking system along with fins and rockets that give it accuracy and range that has never been attainable with other artillery shells. The artillery round can travel over 25 miles and still hit a target 10 meters wide! The Excalibur artillery shell can deliver a wide variety of munitions depending on its objective. The secret of developing this weapon technology lied in integrating the GPS in a way that it could withstand incredible G-forces without compromising the tracking device in the artillery shell.

The extremely accurate smart Excalibur artillery shell reduces collateral damage while being extremely versatile. The Excalibur can deliver three different “blocks” as mentioned byGlobal Security

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Block I consists of high-explosive, fragmenting, or penetrating unitary munitions to enhance traditional fire support operations with increased range, improved accuracy, and reduced collateral damage against personnel, light materiel, and structure targets. Block II consists of smart munitions to search, detect, acquire, and engage fleeting and short-dwell targets common to open-terrain battlefields. Block III consists of discriminating munitions to selectively identify and engage individual vehicular targets in urban environments by distinguishing specific target characteristics. Excalibur’s precision capabilities are intended to be used by Future Combat System (FCS) Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Cannon units to provide close support to maneuver units in urban or complex terrain. Digitized lightweight 155mm howitzer systems will be used to develop and test Excalibur’s capabilities before FCS NLOS Cannon is fielded.

Manufacturers: Raytheon [NYSE: RTN] and General Dynamics [NYSE: GD]

CBU-105 – The Sensor-Fuzed Weapon – CBU-97 Cluster Bomb Video


Manufacturer: Textron Inc. [NYSE: TXT]

The CBU-97 sensor-fuzed weapon is an extremely potent anti-armor cluster bomb. It combines so many different technologies of lethality and has so many moving parts for a bomb that initial observes questioned whether it would even work. Basically, the CBU-97 is dropped over a column of enemy armor, the bomb “clusters” and releases it’s sub-munitions, which are like smaller little bombs themselves. Each sub-munition is slowed by a parachute, and then each sub-munition fires 4 hockey puck sized “skeets” over the target area. The skeets contain an infrared targeting system and a copper EFP (explosively formed penetrator, a type of shape charge). Once the skeet locks unto a vehicle it fires the EFP at the target, which essentially is a slug of molten copper that can deeply penetrate armor. One CBU-97 has the potential to destroy up to 40 armored vehicles. Please note that the CBU-97 is also referred to as the CBU-105.

See this Cluster Bomb Video

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A-10 and Predator UAV Airstrike Video – Insurgents in Iraq Firing AA Machine Gun

This video depicts the teamwork capability of the US military, coupled with today’s advanced weapon technology. The video is filmed by a Predator UAV on surveillance patrol in Iraq. The Predator observes insurgents firing a AA gun (anti-aircraft artillery) mounted on the rear of a pick-up truck. The insurgents attempt to hide the vehicle and then they flee and hide themselves. The Predator catches everything. The man operating the Predator calls in an A-10 Warthog airstrike, which strafes the tree-line where the insurgents were hiding. Then, the Predator itself takes out the truck by firing a hellfire missile. End of story.

This airstrike video was filmed by a Predator UAV surveilling for insurgent activity in Iraq.

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Also See: F-16 Airstrike Video from Fallujah, Iraq