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Analysis: Thermobaric Weapons Explainer

071204-N-3931M-306 DJIBOUTI, Africa (Dec. 4, 2007) 1,000 pound BLU-110 MK-83 and 500 pound BLU-111 MK-82 hard target penetrating bombs explode at the Gordia range off the coast of Djibouti. The weapons were delivered from U.S. Navy F/A-18 hornet aircraft from the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). Combined Task Forcer Ð Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) conducts operations in the region to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick (Released)

Earlier this week, I recorded an explainer about fuel-air explosives with my colleagues at While the term ‘thermobaric weapons’ has been used for decades, it’s recently been ginned up by the media in order to excite people into a state of irrational fear.

You can access the full clip here.

In summary, thermobaric weapons are a class of explosive, also called fuel-air explosives or vacuum bombs, which are designed to create a violent shockwave that can knock down structures and kill people. They are used by both sides in the current conflict.

The US military has been using thermobaric wepaons for decades, including the famous ‘Daisy Cutter’ Blu-82 bomb used in Iraq and Vietnam.

Photo Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick. US Navy, 2007, Blu-111. Public domain.

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