- (AFP) - The US military is about to use a powerful new
weapon in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, a "thermobaric" bomb
which can suck oxygen out of the cavernous hideouts where Osama bin Laden
and remnants of his al-Qaeda terror network may be holed up.
The laser-guided weapons contain an explosive that can penetrate deep into
caves, as the hunt for bin Laden enters a new, more perilous stage, top
Pentagon officials said Friday.
Officials said 10 of the newly designed bombs were being shipped to Afghanistan
after a successful test last week in Nevada.
Each thermobaric bomb -- also called fuel-air explosives -- contains two
explosive devices and a highly flammable chemical that sends a deadly shock
wave through enclosed spaces such as caves and tunnels without collapsing
The weapons consist of a container of fuel and two explosive charges. When
the first charge detonates, the fuel is dispersed. A second charge then
detonates the billowing cloud of fuel.
Experts say such bombs tend to be far more powerful than conventional high
explosives, and are more likely to kill or injure people hiding in caves,
bunkers and similar shelters because they can suck the air out of such
Earlier versions of thermobaric bombs were used in Vietnam by the United
States and in Chechnya by Russia.
The new version, called the BLU-1186, was developed specifically for use
in the war against terrorism, officials here said.
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