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Current Affairs

Cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons

Date: 04 March 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous


Russia has been accused of using cluster bombs and vacuum bombs during the ongoing war with Ukraine.



Human Rights group such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been monitoring the situation in Ukraine.



  • Cluster bombs are designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions each weighing less than 20 kilograms.

  • This means that they are not precise and are designed to injure or kill human beings indiscriminately over a large area.

  • They can be dropped from aircrafts or through projectiles that ensures that the munitions are scattered over a large space.


Thermobaric weapons

  • They are also known as vaccum bombs, aerosol bombs or fuel air explosives. They use oxygen in large amount to create greater devastation.

  • They can be launched as rockets from tank-mounted launchers or dropped from aircraft.



  • The bomb works in two stages. During the first stage the explosion splits open the fuel container to release fuel and metal particles.

  • During second stage explosion, the aerosol cloud is ignited with fire that sends out intense wave of blast that can destroy strong buildings and vaporize humans.


Legality of the weapons

  • Cluster bombs cannot be used by countries that have ratified Convention on Cluster Munitions. Russia and Ukraine have not ratified.

  • Vaccum bombs use has never been prohibited but their use on civilian population areas such as schools or hospitals can attract sanctions under Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

  • Indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions are prohibited by humanitarian laws. An attack that kills or injures civilians constitutes a war crime.