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Just days before U.S.-backed forces launched an offensive to expel ISIS militants from Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria and heart of the country’s sprawling oil fields, an unusual rumor began to circulate among civilians and activists operating around the city: Russian aircraft had allegedly dropped the “father of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear in the military’s arsenal, on ISIS fighters.
The rumor, which first surfaced on social media and was reported by The War Zone on Sept. 7, claimed that Russia “has bombed positions in Deir Ezzor [sic]” with the so-called Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP), the thermobaric weapon developed in 2007 that, at 14,000 pounds and with a yield comparable to 44 tons of TNT, is more powerful than the GBU-43/B “Mother of All Bombs” that the U.S. Air Force deployed against ISIS forces in Afghanistan back in April. If these claims are true, the alleged sortie represents the first time the FOAB has been deployed since the weapon came into existence.
Counterpart - FOAB - Power - Status - Weapon
Unlike its American counterpart, the FOAB’s unique destructive power comes from its status as a thermobaric weapon, designed to create a punishing high-temperature explosion and subsequent blast wave that, apart from sucking your lungs out of your mouth, doles out most of the bomb’s destruction. “Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon,” then-Russian Deputy Chief Of Staff Alexander Rukshin told state media following the FOAB’s first successful test on Sept. 11, 2007, according to Reuters. “The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shock wave and an incredibly high temperature. All that is alive merely evaporates.”
Russia was happy to tout its powerful new weapon a decade ago, but the country’s government has remained mum on, well, whether the FOAB actually made...
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