The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, nicknamed Commando Vault, is the high altitude delivery of a 15,000 pound bomb from a C-130. This system depends upon the accurate positioning of the aircraft by either a fixed ground radar or onboard navigation equipment. The ground radar controller or aircrew navigator as applicable, is responsible for positioning the aircraft prior to final countdown and release. Primary aircrew considerations include accurate ballistic and wind computations provided by the navigator, and precision instrument flying with strict adherence to controller instructions. The minimum altitude for release due to blast effects of the weapon is 6,000 feet AGL.
The BLU-82 [Bomb Live Unit-82] is a 15,000 pound bomb originally designed to clear helicopter landing zones in Vietnam. The warhead contains 12,600 pounds of GSX [Gelled Slurry Explosive] slurry. Gelled slurry explosives are prepared by forming a slurry of combinations of different ingredients. After this material has gelled, it is detonated by a high explosive booster. Slurry explosives are used in mining where formations to be fractured are wet, very dense, or strong. Slurries are very inexpensive compared with conventional military explosives and much easier to load into large casings. With slurry, filling a bomb is merely a matter of pouring the material into the casing. The slurry can be stored in non-explosive component form and turned into field-manufactured explosive as it is needed. Slurries, sometimes called water gels, contain ammonium nitrate partly in aqueous solution. Adding powdered aluminum as a sensitizer to slurries greatly increases the heat of explosion or the energy release. Aluminized slurries have been used in extremely hard rock with excellent results.
The bomb is detonated a few feet above ground level by a 38-inch fuze extender, optimized to clear vegetation while creating no crater. Nicknamed “Big Blue 82”, the weapon is frequently and incorrectly referred to as “Daisy Cutter”, a term which more properly applies to the fuze assembly for above-ground bursts.
In Vietnam it was used to clear helicopter landing zones about 250 feet in diameter. Also called the Daisy Cutter, the BLU-82/B was first used in Vietnam on 23 March 1970. Eleven BLU-82s were dropped during Desert Storm, all from Special Operations C-130s. The initial drops were intended to test the ability of the bomb to clear mines; no reliable bomb damage assessment exist on mine clearing effectiveness. Later, bombs were dropped as much for their psychological effect as for their destructive power.
As of 13 December 2001 the US had dropped at least four “daisy cutter” bombs in Afghanistan, mainly on tunnels reportedly holding top al Qaeda leaders.
Melvin A. Cook’s life is intimately connected with the history of explosives, he is a scientist,, inventor, teacher, businessman, theorist, consultant, expert witness, entrepreneur, and author. Cook’s personal involvement in both the theoretical and practical aspects of the field of explosives spans more than fifty years. Cook’s greatest commercial explosives invention was formulated in December of 1956, when he created a new blasting agent using an unusual mixture of ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder, and water. The safety and efficiency of this new explosive were apparent, and the use of water was revolutionary. Tests that followed resulted in the development of a new field of explosives: slurry explosives. This invention converted the commercial explosives industry from “dangerous dynamite” to “safe slurry” and dry blasting agents [ANFO]. In 1972 Cook developed the BLU-82, the largest and most powerful chemical bomb, using aluminized slurry. Cook, a professor of metallurgy at the University of Utah, was a businessman and author of works on explosives. He also published works on creationism, particularly on the relationship between science and Mormonism.
Class: 15,000 lb. Blast
Accuracy: 32 meters
Weight (lb.): 15,000
Length (in): 141.6
Diameter (in): 54
Warhead (lbs.): 15,000
Explosive: Aluminum Powder (12,600 lbs.)
Fuze: M904 (Nose); M905 (Tail)
Unit Cost: $27,318