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BIG BLUE: A MASSIVE BOMB

The U.S. Air Force has begun using a massive conventional bomb called the BLU-82--also known as a “Big Blue” or a “Daisy Cutter"--in its aerial assault on Iraqi defensive positions in Kuwait. A look at the big bombs:

What It is: A BLU-82 is loaded with about 12,600 pounds of explosives, compared to 500 to 2,000 pounds for other conventional bombs.

Background: The BLU-82 was used in Vietnam to clear dense jungle areas for helicopter landing zones. In the Gulf War, Pentagon officials said it is being used to clear minefields in preparation for a large-scale ground attack. Officials hope the explosive force of the bombs is sufficient to detonate many of the mines. Tail fuse assembly Electrical fuse drive assembly Tiedown / handling lugs in 19 places Foreward fuse well Nose fuse extender Nose fuse Brush deflector The bomb is about the size of two 6-foot side-by-side refrigerators.

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Specifications: Length: 11.5 feet Diameter: 4.5 feet Weight with cradle: 15,200 lbs. Explosive weight: 12,600 lbs. Explosive fill: Gelled Slurry DBA-22M

HOW IT IS DROPPED

The BLU-82s are placed on pallets with rollers and dropped out the back of C-130 cargo planes, just as they were in Vietnam. They are not dropped from B-52s because the aircraft bomb bays would have to be extensively reconfigured to accommodate the big bombs.

1. C-130 cargo aircraft at 6,000 feet above ground.

2. Bomb on palette is released from cargo bay.

3. Bomb separates from palette by a static release line and parachute deploys.

4. Bomb detonates about three feet above the ground, creating enormous “overpressure” of 1,000 pounds per square inch. The resulting shock wave, which has been compared to a small nuclear explosion, levels everything within several hundred yards.

Palette lands about 2,200 feet from impact.

Impact at about 27 seconds after release and at the speed of 340 feet per second.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Pentagon


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