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Fuel-air Explosive

Thermobaric weapons are a subclass of volumetric weapons, a family that includes thermobaric weapons and fuel air explosives. They consist of a fuel container and two separate explosive charges. When a volumetric weapon is dropped or launched, the first charge detonates to disperse the fuel particles. The second charge ignites the dispersed fuel and oxygen in the air, creating a blast wave of extreme pressure and heat that has the potential to reverberate and to create a partial vacuum in an enclosed space. They are likely to cause civilian casualties due to their indiscriminate and uncontained nature.

fuel-air explosive

There is a massive difference between a thermobaric weapon and a nuclear weapon, but neither weapon is new. Fuel-air explosives were developed by the United States in the 1960s and used in Vietnam. They were also previously used by Russia in Chechnya in the 1990s, reportedly against China during a 1969 border conflict and most recently, in the conflict in Syria and possibly by the Syrian regime itself. It is believed that China and India also have these bombs. However, the United States and Russia have continued to improve them and billed them as a substitute to the vastly more destructive nuclear bombs in order to breach hardened military targets.

The claim about fuel-air explosives being comparable to low-yield nuclear weapons seems to have come in part from an article by a Russian scientist and a statement from a Russian official after the test in 2007. While articles like those listed distinguish between thermobaric weapons and fuel-air bombs as separate classes under the larger umbrella of volumetric weapons, some news stories like this one and even this book explicitly state that thermobaric weapons, fuel-air bombs, and vacuum bombs are all synonymous. This patent lays out the differences, which seem to come down to stages of anaerobic versus aerobic reactions.

If you model a flammable area in ALOHA using the default LOCs, your threat zone estimate will look similar to the one pictured below. The red and yellow threat zones both indicate areas where the fuel-air concentration is predicted to exceed that LOC at some time after a release begins; however, the red area is the more dangerous area, where flame pockets could occur.

Fully loaded, the Carpet launcher weighs only 3.5 tons. It can carry up to 20 x 265 mm rockets, each weighing 46 kg. Fully functional training rockets can also be fired with the system for training exercises, safely simulating the entire operation (without fuel-air explosion). The system can be towed, mounted on the rear of the armored fighting vehicle (as shown on the IDF Puma AFV at EuroSatory 2002) or installed inside an APC. The IDF used the Carper during the war in Lebanon, neutralizing and clearing Hezbollah strongholds near the Israeli- Lebanese border. (See video here)

The weapon is fired or dropped, and the first explosive charge spreads the fuel in a cloud that sucks up oxygen and then flows "around objects and into structures." As the fuel cloud spreads, the second charge detonates. The explosion creates a blast wave that is most destructive in enclosed spaces, buildings and foxholes.

Since the most common FAE (fuel-air explosive) fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as with most chemical agents," the study said.

(New York, February 15, 2000) -Human Rights Watch today wrote to Russia's Acting President, Vladimir Putin,urging Russia to refrain from using highly destructive fuel-air explosives(FAEs) that could cause high civilian casualties if deployed. The Russianmilitary has reportedly used FAE bombs in the Dagestani village of Tandoin August 1999, and more recently in the suburbs of Grozny and the mountainsof southern Chechnya. High-ranking Russian military officials have repeatedlydenied the use of such weapons in Chechnya. One Russian military experthas described the impact of FAEs as "comparable to low-yield nuclearmunitions.""The indiscriminately destructivenature of fuel-air explosive weapons makes their use in the Chechnya conflictunacceptable," said Joost Hilterman, executive director of Human RightsWatch's Arms Division. "Fuel-air explosives have the capacity to killand injure over a widearea, in a most brutal fashion."

On behalf of Human Rights Watch, we arewriting to express our deep concern about the reported use of fuel-airexplosives against targets in southern Chechnya and the capital, Grozny.The use of fuel-air explosive bombs, known popularly in Russia as "vacuumbombs," would represent a dangerous escalation of the Chechnya conflictwith important humanitarian implications. Fuel-air explosives (FAEs) havethe potential to cause massive destruction over a wide area, and couldcause extensive civilian casualties if used near populated areas. So far,the Russian military has reportedly used FAE bombs in the Dagestani villageof Tando in August 1999, and more recently in the suburbs of Grozny andthe mountains of southern Chechnya.

Although much relevant information aboutfuel-air explosives remains classified, Russian and foreign experts agreeon their destructive nature. According to one Russian military scientistwriting for the Russian military magazine Voyennyye Znaniya (Military Knowledge),FAE weapons can be deployed against exposed personnel, combat equipment,fortified areas, and individual defensive fortifications, clearing passagesin mine fields, clearing landing sites for helicopters, destroying communicationcenters, and neutralizing strongholds in house-to-house fighting in a city."In its destructive capability, [FAEs are] comparable to low-yieldnuclear munitions," concluded the Russian military expert.

U.S. studies of the impact of FAE explosivesare similar to Russian assessments. According to a 1993 study by the U.S.Defense Intelligence Agency, "The [blast] kill mechanism against livingtargets is unique-and unpleasant.... What kills is the pressure wave,and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction [vacuum], which rupturesthe lungs.... If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims willbe severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Sincethe most common FAE fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highlytoxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught withinthe cloud as most chemical agents."

In order to solve the problem of stratified settlement of traditional loose charges, solid-state fuel air explosives have been rapidly developed in recent years. In this paper, two solid-state fuel air explosives with PTFE and HTPB as binder systems were proposed, and two kinds of solid-state fuel air explosives were used at different strain rates by using a separate Hopkinson pressure bar (SHPB) experimental device. The dynamic mechanical properties were studied. Simultaneous high-speed photography was used to observe the damage and pulverization behavior of the two fuel air explosives at high strain rate. The failure response modes of the two fuel air explosives were analyzed. The results showed that the PTFE-based fuel air explosives the strain wave responds faster and is more sensitive to variability.

Landfills can produce objectionable odors and landfill gas can move through soil and collect in nearby buildings. Of the gases produced in landfills, ammonia, sulfides, methane, and carbon dioxide are of most concern. Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are responsible for most of the odors at landfills. Methane is flammable and concentrations have sometimes exceeded explosive levels indoors. Methane and carbon dioxide can also collect in nearby buildings and displace oxygen.

Methane is the major component of natural gas. It is highly flammable and can form explosive mixtures with air if it concentrates in an enclosed space with poor ventilation. The range of air concentrations at which methane levels are considered to be an explosion hazard is 5 to 15% of the total air volume. Landfill gas explosions are not common occurrences.

In addition to howitzers, UDOT avalanche control methods include explosives placed by hand or dropped by helicopter; Avalaunchers, which use compressed gas to launch a small explosive; and remote avalanche control systems (RACS). RACS are small towers installed on known avalanche paths that use fuel/air mixtures to create small, pinpoint explosions when remotely activated by UDOT crews. 041b061a72

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