Unconfirmed reports from Syria claim that Russia has dropped what is considered the largest, most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the world. According to reports on Twitter, the bomb was allegedly dropped near the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor.
The gigantic bomb, officially the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP), is also know as the "Father of All Bombs" (FOAB). FOAB is a so-called thermobaric weapon, a type of munition that releases a cloud of flammable gas over the target before detonating it. In addition to the heat of the explosion, this approach also creates a deadly pressure wave that is particularly damaging against enclosed spaces, including tanks, caves, and bunkers.
According to The War Zone, FOAB disperses a cloud of ethylene oxide and aluminum before detonating it. Ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas, a byproduct of consumer products such as antifreeze. Ethylene oxide rapidly expands upon heating, causing fire and explosion.
Exactly how the bomb was deployed over Syria is a good question. As The War Zone points out, Russian footage of the 2007 test implies a Russian Aerospace Force Tu-160 "Blackjack" strategic bomber was the delivery vehicle, but the actual drop footage appears to show the bomb rolling out the back ramp of a transport aircraft. The American MOAB is rolled out the back ramp of a modified C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
Deir ez-Zor has been heavily battered by almost all factions in the Syrian Civil War, having been bombed by Russian Aerospace Force bombers, the U.S. Air Force, and even Iranian short-range ballistic missiles.
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At the time of the bomb's first test in 2007, the then-deputy chief of the Russian General Staff claimed it was "comparable to nuclear weapons." That's a little hyperbolic, but he's not entirely wrong. At 44 tons of explosive yield, the FOAB approaches the yield of a tactical nuclear weapon. The American W48 warhead, part of the M454 155-millimeter nuclear artillery shell, had an explosive yield of 70 to 100 tons.
The bomb is called the "Father of All Bombs" to place it in the same class as the 11-ton American GBU-43/B, also known as the "Mother of All Bombs." MOAB was recently used in Afghanistan against a series of cave complexes used by ISIS forces.