Russia has delivered a belligerent message of defiance to the West after army generals claimed to have tested “the father of all bombs”.
Developed in secret, the unchristened bomb, a vacuum device capable of emitting shockwaves as powerful as a nuclear weapon, was unveiled with great theatre on state television’s main evening broadcast.
Boasting that the weapon had “no match in the world,” ORT First Channel television showed a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber dropping its payload over a testing ground, followed by a massive explosion.
Pictures of what appeared to be crumpled multi-storey apartment blocks were also broadcast.
Although there was no independent verification of the Russian military’s claim, the test is likely to cause further consternation in the West after a series of bellicose statements by the president, Vladimir Putin.
According to Russian generals, the bomb is four times more powerful than the American Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb or MOAB.
Better known as the Mother of All Bombs, the MOAB is a descendent of the BLU-82 Daisy cutter used in Tora Bora during the war against the Taliban in 2001.
Although it has never been used, the US military says the MOAB is capable of destroying nine city blocks in one strike.
According to Gen Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because, due to nanotechnology, the temperature at the epicentre of the blast is twice as high.
“Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon,” he said.
“The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature,” ORT added.
“All that is alive merely evaporates.”
Despite its destructive qualities, the bomb is environmentally friendly, Gen Rushkin said.
The test comes after weeks of increasingly belligerent rhetoric from the Kremlin.
Mr Putin has ordered his long-range nuclear bombers to mount patrols in international airspace for the first time since the Cold War.
Last week, Russian Tupolev bombers approached British airspace for the fourth time in two months and sorties have also been flown close to US military installations.
Since Mr Putin, an ex-KGB officer, came to power, Russia’s annual defence spending has been quadrupled.
In addition, the Kremlin has announced a £100 billion military modernisation programme.
The new bomb is further proof that Russia’s military has regained its technological edge. New ground and sea launched nuclear missiles have also been developed.