What is a Vacuum Bomb? Ukraine Claims That Russia Is Using A Vacuum Bomb

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A vacuum bomb or thermobaric weaponaerosol bombfuel air explosive is a type of explosive that uses oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion. In practice, the blast wave typically produced by these weapons lasts significantly longer than that of a conventional condensed explosive. The fuel–air explosive is one of the best-known types of thermobaric weapon.

What is a vacuum bomb and how do they work? 

A vacuum bomb or a thermobaric weapon is a two-stage munition that is used to suck in the oxygen from the surrounding area in order to generate a high-temperature explosion. Therefore, the blast wave produced by the bomb is significantly longer in duration as compared to a conventional explosive. The weapon is also capable of vaporising human bodies.

The thermobaric weapon is also known as an aerosol bomb or fuel-air explosive. As mentioned before, the vacuum bomb is a two-stage munition. The Guardian explained that the first-stage charge distributes an aerosol made up of very fine material, from a carbon-based fuel to tiny metal particles. A second charge then ignites that cloud, creating a fireball, a huge shock wave, and a vacuum as it sucks up all surrounding oxygen. 

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How dangerous are vacuum bombs or thermobaric boms? 

According to experts, the thermobaric weapons were effective at their purpose of destroying defensive positions. They are not used to penetrate a tank, however, they could be a “very destructive weapon” against an apartment complex or building. Analysts explained that the vacuum bombs suck the air out of the lungs of defenders. 

Where have they been used before? 

According to reports, the deadly bombs have been used by Russian and western forces since the 1960s. The United States relied on the thermobaric weapon in its attempts to eliminate terror group al-Qaeda in the mountains in Afghanistan. Russia, on the other hand, has had a longer track record with the bombs than the west. 

According to Dr Marcus Hellyer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the separatists that Russia was supporting in the Donbas region have been using them for a number of years now. It is to mention that according to The Guarding, back in 200, Human Rights Watch even condemned Moscow’s reported use of the weapons a year earlier in Chechnya as “dangerous escalation” with important humanitarian implications. 

Russia Used A Vacuum Bomb During Invasion, Claims Ukraine

Human rights groups and Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States on Monday accused Russia of attacking Ukrainians with cluster bombs and vacuum bombs, weapons that have been condemned by a variety of international organizations.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both said that Russian forces appeared to have used widely banned cluster munitions, with Amnesty accusing them of attacking a preschool in northeastern Ukraine while civilians took shelter inside.

Ukraine Claims That Russia Is Using A Vacuum Bomb

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters after meeting with members of the U.S. Congress that Russia had used a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb, in its invasion of her country.

“They used the vacuum bomb today,” Markarova said after a meeting with lawmakers. “…The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large.”

There has been no official confirmation that thermobaric weapons have been used in the conflict in Ukraine. CNN reported that one of its teams had spotted a Russian thermobaric multiple rocket launcher near the Ukrainian border early on Saturday afternoon.

Termobaric or Vacuum Bomb Terminology

The term thermobaric is derived from the Greek words for ‘heat’ and ‘pressure’: thermobarikos (θερμοβαρικός), from thermos (θερμός) ‘hot’ + baros (βάρος) ‘weight, pressure’ + suffix -ikos (-ικός) ‘-ic’.

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Other terms used for the family of weapons are high-impulse thermobaric weapons, heat and pressure weapons, vacuum bombs, and fuel-air explosives.

Vacuum Bomb used by Terrorists

Thermobaric and fuel–air explosives have been used in guerrilla warfare since the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing in Lebanon, which used a gas-enhanced explosive mechanism that was probably propane, butane, or acetylene. The explosive used by the bombers in the US 1993 World Trade Center bombing incorporated the FAE principle by using three tanks of bottled hydrogen gas to enhance the blast. Jemaah Islamiyah bombers used a shock-dispersed solid fuel charge, based on the thermobaric principle, to attack the Sari nightclub during the 2002 Bali bombings.

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