Germany currently has modern thermobaric weapons

Thermo-bar-baric bomb terror out of control?

Vacuum bombs or fuel-air bombs could in future be used in terrorist attacks with devastating consequences

Weapons are repeatedly turned against their inventors and donors when friends equipped with them become enemies. Now the USA and its allies must also fear that so-called vacuum bombs will be used against them by worldwide terrorists who use the black market or manufacture weapons themselves. Research on counter-weapons is already ongoing.

A first, smaller explosion rips open containers containing gasoline. The fuel that is sprayed over a large area combines with the oxygen in the air to form a highly flammable and highly explosive mixture. A second, stronger explosion causes the aerosol mixture to explode and causes a pressure wave with an unimaginable effect. Immediately after the pressure wave there is a vacuum suction, which intensifies the destructive effect. People inside closed rooms who are still alive after the explosion are painfully suffocated by the destruction of the oxygen and the creation of toxic gases.

This is how the effect of so-called "thermobaric bombs" (vacuum bombs) can be described, which are based on the military technology of fuel-air bombs (fuel-air bombs) and which have long been used by American or Russian armed forces.

Shortly after the official end of the Iraq war in May 2003, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld boasted at a press conference that a "Hellfire" missile equipped with a vacuum bomb could precisely kill all life on the first floor of a building without further damage House to prepare. Vacuum bombs are also able to liquidate enemies hidden deep in caves and bunkers.

This ability of thermobaric weapon technology is of course gladly taken away from the USA, especially in the mountainous theater of war in Afghanistan (cf. War Games 2002). Osama bin Laden and his fighters often seem to be hiding there in difficult-to-access, branched caves. In autumn 2001, the US armed forces therefore used the BLU-118 "Cave Buster" (see above) in a campaign of revenge against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The Pentagon had the portable rocket launcher SMAW-NE, a modified variant of the SMAW developed specifically for the Iraq campaign, with which thermobaric bombs can be fired.

China is also working on such a vacuum bomb. The British Ministry of Defense still officially denies the development of its own thermobaric weapon systems. The Russians, on the other hand, have had various thermobaric weapons such as the portable bazooka RPO-A Shmel since the 1960s in Soviet times and used vacuum bombs, for example, in the bloody suppression of rebellions in Chechnya and Dagestan in the 1990s.

The uncontrolled proliferation of Soviet arsenals that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union has also led to high-tech weapons falling into the wrong hands around the world via the military technology black market. For example, the Cobra militiamen of the former Congolese President Sassou-Nguesso used the RPO-A Shmel-Bazooka in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Even more threatening is the fact that terrorists are trying to produce their own thermobaric weapons in international cooperation. The suicide attack on the La Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, in April 2002, which was attributed to Al-Qaida, is considered to be an indication of this. The truck's fuel tanks were tinkered with explosives in a certain way that experts believe suggests knowledge of how fuel-air bombs work. According to the CIA, three IRA terrorists arrested in Colombia in 2001 confessed to producing "fuel air" weapons in cooperation with the local Marxist FARC guerrillas.

In view of these threats, attempts are now being made to develop weapons against the vacuum bombs. The Canadian government agency Defense Research and Development Agency DRDC is working on test series for antidotes. Concrete barriers around endangered civil buildings or military bases protect at least partially against attacks with conventional car bombs, but with vacuum bombs their protection is rather the opposite. Software simulations developed by the DRDC are now intended to help predict how the building fabric will react to thermobaric explosion effects. Fixtures could then be redesigned accordingly.

And the US Marine Corps is now using recruiting computer war games such as America's Army to find tactics against possible attacks with thermobaric weapons such as in Iraq. In the current offensive by the US secret service-supported Pakistani troops against al-Qaida fighters in the border area with Afghanistan, the renewed use of vacuum bombs against cave systems must have been considered. Putting these cruel weapons in the hands of the army of an Islamic country would have to pose no small risk to the foresighted US military ... (Hubert Erb)

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