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  1. #1
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    Default Thermobaric Bombs - al Qaeda’s New Weapon of Terror

    From the National Terror Alert - Response Center



    Thermobaric bombs, al Qaeda’s new weapon of destruction, raises the stakes in the war on terror.

    Investigators now believe the bombing on Sep. 21 that killed dozens and left massive damage at the Islamabad Marriott, including a gaping hole in the ground in front of the building, was a crude form of a device that intensifies and enhances an explosive, a thermobaric bomb.

    The bomb was delivered in a truck that contained what investigators believe was aluminum powder in addition to grenades and artillery shells. The aluminum power is believed to have been responsible for the acceleration and expansion of the impact of the bomb.

    While barriers around the hotel kept the truck bomb at some distance from the structure, the devastation indicated that there had to be something capable of raising the devastation level considerably

    Aluminum powder has long been used to boost the power of explosives. Blast weapons like the 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter and the 21,600-pound “Mother of All Bombs” use it to increase their destructive force.

    Devices with a high proportion of metal powder to explosive are termed “thermobaric.” When the explosive goes off, the metal powder at the leading edge of the fireball burns as it contacts the air. With a crude device, the powder simply burns and adds to the fireball. In more advanced weapons, the burning metal produces a sub-sonic shockwave (known as deflagration); the most advanced produce a detonation (supersonic shockwave) of tremendous destructive power.

    Normal, condensed explosives produce a very short pressure pulse. A “volumetric” one, from a detonating fireball, produces an extended blast pulse that is far more damaging to buildings. The Marriott attack left a large crater, indicating that much of the blast came from a point source. The metal powder seems to have contributed only to the incendiary effects. According to the Guardian, “the temperature had reached 400C, investigators said, which made the hotel’s sprinkler system and the fire service useless.”

    By all accounts, there was a long delay before the device went off, with the truck burning sometime before the explosion.This was not a device built by master bombmakers. And the hotel’s security barrier performed a vital function of keeping the bomb away from the building. Distance is life in these situations. (Compare the Marriott blast with the Oklahoma City bombing; there was a lot of structural damage to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, because McVeigh was able to drive right up to it.) However, a thermobaric blast would extend the radius of effect of such a truck bomb significantly.

    The blast and fire damage at the Islamabad Marriott were severe enough as it was. But a similar device with enhanced engineering could have leveled the building and caused far worse casualties. Terrorists showed that one of the most secure buildings in Islamabad was still vulnerable to attack, but there was far less damage than there might have been.

    Thermobaric weapons distinguish themselves from conventional explosive weapons by using atmospheric oxygen, instead of carrying an oxidizer in their explosives. They are also called high-impulse thermobaric weapons (HITs), fuel-air explosives (FAE or FAX) or sometimes fuel-air munitions, heat and pressure weapons, or vacuum bombs. They produce more explosive energy for a given size than do other conventional explosives, but have the disadvantage of being less predictable in their effect

    The effects produced by FAEs (a long-duration high pressure and heat impulse) are often likened to the effects produced by low-yield nuclear weapons, but without the problems of radiation. However, this is inexact; for all current and foreseen sub-kiloton-yield nuclear weapon designs, prompt radiation effects predominate, producing some secondary heating; very little of the nominal yield is actually delivered as blast. The resulting injury dealt by either weapon on a targeted population is nonetheless great.

  2. #2
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    Curt, I saw the FAE demonstrated at Eglin AFB, FL on a mock-up city square solidly constructed. Substantial damage was done.
    At Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD I saw the demonstration of the surface launched fuel air explosive or SLFAE round. The damage was extensive.
    We had a C-130 unit deploy through Andersen AFB, GU in 1965 that dropped parachute 10K bombs in Viet Nam to create landing zones for Army and Marine forces.
    That too was developed at Eglin.
    Adding aluminium powder to the mix was not totally unexpected as there has been chatter about it for some time.
    Security leadership needs to remember not only the positive blast but the negative blast that can in some instances be far more devastating.
    Enjoy the day,
    Bill

  3. #3
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    Curtis, great post! Bill, your seconding it as well as it's witnessed effects and the chatter about such bolds the article even more.

    This thread should serve notice for all of us on here, working in the industrial as well as petro/chem industries or any other place which uses or houses aluminum powder as well as others with similar properties, to "get to know" what we are guarding, if not known already.

    Play safe all!
    I'm the guy you don't want to be around when your doing something wrong, but you can't wait for me to get there when your down, to fix you up...

    If you don't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

  4. #4
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    Fuel air explosives are nasty critters. When I was in the Navy I saw a few videos of how they work. I recently saw a video of a FAE going off in a tunnel type environment. The fuel filled the whole tunnel and when ignited it sucked air in at a tremendous rate then blew it out at an even faster rate. Some bad@@@ stuff there.

    Aluminum powder is nothing new. They have been using it for many years now to increase yield in many applications.

    This is just another example of how plyable the enemy is becoming in thier fight to destroy us. We must stay vigil in our stand against these slime.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Warnock View Post
    Curt, I saw the FAE demonstrated at Eglin AFB, FL on a mock-up city square solidly constructed. Substantial damage was done.
    At Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD I saw the demonstration of the surface launched fuel air explosive or SLFAE round. The damage was extensive.
    We had a C-130 unit deploy through Andersen AFB, GU in 1965 that dropped parachute 10K bombs in Viet Nam to create landing zones for Army and Marine forces.
    That too was developed at Eglin.
    Adding aluminium powder to the mix was not totally unexpected as there has been chatter about it for some time.
    Security leadership needs to remember not only the positive blast but the negative blast that can in some instances be far more devastating.
    Enjoy the day,
    Bill
    In 67-68 I saw LZ's cleared with B-52 strikes and 2,000 pounders from the New Jersey. On one such occasion we dropped back a few miles and dug in. The shrapnel from the B-52's was flying over our heads and the sides of our foxholes were crumbling.

  6. #6
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    I shiver as i read these posts. The ability of mankind to create such destructive instruments has always fascinated as well as astounded me.

    Thank you for informing me of something i was unaware of. The potential for a devastating attack means all of us must be as vigilant as possible

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottFree View Post
    I shiver as i read these posts. The ability of mankind to create such destructive instruments has always fascinated as well as astounded me.

    Thank you for informing me of something i was unaware of. The potential for a devastating attack means all of us must be as vigilant as possible
    I have a direct relative that works for the DOD - Counter Intelligence. I'm continously amazed at what is out there. And, that is only the things they will tell me about.

  8. #8
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    Curt, in this morning's Washington Post A14, there is an article entitled, "Use of 'Sticky IEDs' Rising in Iraq, with a subtitle, Magnetized Devices Cling to Undersides of Vehicles. Harken back to the days of WWII and the use of the limpet mines affixed to a ship's keel, used first against the British by Italian forgmen and then against the Germans by British frogmen. Common thread, magnets; the enemy is ever adaptive. That could very well happen here!
    Enjoy the day,
    Bill

  9. #9
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    Bill - I get a filtered, intelligence update every week and that was included awhile back. I'm suprised it took the Washington Post that long to catch it. Their super-snoopers much be on a break. The shaped charges are still pouring in from Iran.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
    Bill - I get a filtered, intelligence update every week and that was included awhile back. I'm suprised it took the Washington Post that long to catch it. Their super-snoopers much be on a break. The shaped charges are still pouring in from Iran.
    Curt, understood.
    Enjoy the day,
    Bill

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