Nuclear bunker buster

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Bunker-busting nuclear weapons, also known as earth-penetrating weapons (EPW), are a type of nuclear weapon designed to penetrate into soil, rock, or concrete to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target. These weapons would be used to destroy hardened, underground military bunkers buried deep in the ground. In theory, the amount of radioactive nuclear fallout would be reduced from that of a standard, air-burst nuclear detonation because they would have relatively low explosive yield. However because such weapons necessarily come into contact with large amounts of earth-based debris, they may, under certain circumstances, still generate fallout. Warhead yield and weapon design have changed periodically throughout the history of the design of such weapons. In general, these weapons deliver more "useful" destruction because unlike air bursts, the energy yield does not dissipate into the air.

Contents

Methods of operation

Penetration by explosive force

Concrete structure design has not changed much in the last 60 years. The majority of protected concrete structures in the US military are derived from standards set forth in Fundamentals of Protective Design, published in 1946 (US Army Corps of Engineers). Various augmentations, such as glass, fibers, and rebar, have made concrete less vulnerable, but far from impenetrable.

When explosive force is applied to concrete, three major fracture regions are usually formed: the initial crater, a crushed aggregate surrounding the crater, and "scabbing" on the surface opposite the crater. Scabbing, also known as "spalling," is the violent separation of a mass of material from the opposite face of a plate or slab subjected to an impact or impulsive loading (this does not necessarily mean that the barrier itself must have been penetrated at this point).

As the compressive wave propagates to the opposite side of the concrete and is reflected, the concrete fractures, and scabbing occurs on the interior wall. As such, an asymptotic relationship exists between the strength of the concrete and the damage that will be done between the crater, aggregate, and scabbing.

While soil is a less dense material, it also does not transmit shock waves as well as concrete. So while a penetrator may actually travel further through soil, its effect may be lessened due to its inability to transmit shock to the target.

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