The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world’s most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia’s state television reported Tuesday.
It was the latest show of Russia’s military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.
Channel One television said the new weapon, nicknamed the “dad of all bombs,” is four times more powerful than the U.S. “mother of all bombs.”
“The tests have shown that the new air-delivered ordnance is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its efficiency and capability,” said Col.-Gen. Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in televised remarks.
Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn’t hurt the environment, he added.
The statement reflected the Kremlin’s efforts to restore Russia’s global clout and rebuild the nation’s military might while the ties with Washington have been strained over U.S. criticism of Russia’s backsliding on democracy, Moscow’s vociferous protests of U.S. missile defense plans, and rifts over global crises.
The U.S. Massive Ordnance Air Blast, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs, is a large-yield satellite-guided, air-delivered bomb described as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in history.
Channel One said that while the Russian bomb contains 7.8 tons of high explosives compared to more than 8 tons of explosives in the U.S. bomb, it’s four times more powerful because it uses a new, highly efficient type of explosives that the report didn’t identify.
While the U.S. bomb is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, the Russian one is equivalent to 44 tons of regular explosives. The Russian weapon’s blast radius is 990 feet, twice as big as that of the U.S. design, the report said.
Like its U.S. predecessor, first tested in 2003, the Russian bomb is a “thermobaric” weapon that explodes in an intense fireball combined with a devastating blast. It explodes in a terrifying nuclear bomb-like mushroom cloud and wreaks destruction through a massive shock wave created by the air burst and high temperature.
Thermobaric weapons work on the same principle that causes blasts in grain elevators and other dusty places — clouds of fine particles are highly explosive. Such explosions produce shock waves that can be directed and amplified in enclosed spaces such as buildings, caves or tunnels.
Channel One said that the temperature in the epicenter of the Russian bomb’s explosion is twice as high as that of the U.S. bomb.
Bomb 'protects the nation's security'
The report showed the bomb dropped by parachute from a Tu-160 strategic bomber and exploding in a massive fireball. It featured the debris of apartment buildings and armored vehicles at a test range, as well as the scorched ground from a massive blast.
It didn’t give the bomb’s military name or say when it was tested.
Rukshin said the new bomb would allow the military to “protect the nation’s security and confront international terrorism in any situation and any region.”
“We have got a relatively cheap ordnance with a high strike power,” Yuri Balyko, head of the Defense Ministry’s institute in charge of weapons design, told Channel One.
Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to steadily increase military spending in recent years, and the Kremlin has taken a more assertive posture in global affairs.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin said he ordered the resumption of regular patrols of strategic bombers, which were suspended after the 1991 Soviet breakup.