RAF pilots in Afghanistan are firing an increasing number of brutal “enhanced blast” thermobaric weapons, the Ministry of Defence admitted in May. Since the modified Hellfire AGM-114N weapons were bought from the US in May 2008, over 40 are known to have been fired. 20 were fired in 2008 (in seven months), while over 20 had been fired up to May this year (in five months).
Thermobaric weapons, known earlier as “fuel-air explosives”, cast a fine mist of fuel throughout a wide area, and then ignite it in a massive explosion, obliterating those nearby, and demolishing internal organs in those further away. The subsequent vacuum destroys lungs.
British pilots were frustrated that firing anti-tank weapons merely punched small holes in Afghan houses, passing through the entire building. The Hellfires are “particularly designed to take down structures and kill everyone in the buildings”, an MoD official told the Guardian.
The warheads (adapted to maximise blast) are capable of rupturing the lungs of people in every corner of a building or a cave system. Hellfire missiles are now fired from RAF Reaper pilotless drones controlled by British operators at Creech air force base in Nevada.
Because of legal concerns that thermobaric weapons broke international law, the MoD have renamed them “enhanced blast weapons”.