- The United States has used the biggest conventional bomb
in its armoury the 15,000lb (6,800kg) Daisy Cutter for the first time
in the campaign.
- The fuel-air explosive device, which detonates just above
the ground and whose blast has been described as being like a nuclear
without the fallout, was used twice on Taliban and al-Qa'ida fortifications
in the last few days.
- Its use is a significant escalation of air strikes and
follows the receipt of intelligence from the Russians on underground
they built during their war in Afghanistan, which have been taken over
by the Afghan regime, as well as caves used by the mujahedin. A Pentagon
spokesman said: "We have better knowledge now of where these caves
are and who or what is inside them."
- The bombs are pushed out of the back of C-130 aircraft
on pallets and detonate about three feet above the ground, covering a
area with a mushroom cloud of aluminium powder which burns at about 5,500C
- Such is the pressure generated by the blast that
tunnels and structures are crushed and people inside incinerated. The
of the explosion is said to resemble a daisy-shaped biscuit cutter.
- The use of the bomb and its variations has always been
controversial. It was first used by the United States in the last days
of the Vietnam War and then in the Gulf War.
- In response to worries about its destructive
raised in Parliament during the Gulf War, Alan Clark, who was the minister
for defence procurement, said: "Fuel-air bombs were used by the United
States only to clear minefields."
- Last night, General Peter Pace, Deputy Chief of the US
Defence Staff, described the bombs as extremely useful weapons for the
Afghanistan conflict and said they might be used again.
- One of the uses for the bombs would be to decontaminate
soil which had been infected with anthrax. However, there is no suggestion
that this was the reason for its deployment in the campaign in
- The US is also set to introduce the Global Hawk, the
most advanced long-range unmanned reconnaisance aircraft, to the
- The £30m plane can stay airborne for 36 hours and
cruise at 65,000 feet, far above the range of anti-aircraft weapons. It
provides photographs for officers back at base in the US.
- The Hawks are expected to replace the Predators, which
are cheaper, at £3.3m each, but slower and fly at a lower altitude.
The Taliban claims to have shot down one of them.
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