Over the last decade a large number of weapon systems have appeared that use blast as their primary damage mechanism. This is a notable trend; until recently very few warheads relied on blast as their primary output. Most warheads in service use explosives to drive metal such as fragments and shaped charge jets to engage targets. New technologies are now being integrated into warheads that claim to have enhanced blast performance. Blast weapons could have been designed to fill a gap in capability; they are generally used for the attack of ‘soft’ targets including personnel, both in the open and within protective structures.
With the increased number and range of these weapons, it is likely that UK forces will have to face them in future conflicts. This paper briefly describes fuel-air explosive blast weapons and reviews a range of enhanced blast weapons that have been developed recently. The paper concludes with a brief discussion on the reasons why enhanced blast technologies may be proliferating and how this could affect the Defence Medical Services.
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