A thermobaric weapon or a vacuum bomb is a type of two-stage munition. It is a relatively recent invention, and it is far more dangerous than traditional weapons. The pressure wave it produces can kill, while the vacuum it creates after the explosion can rupture the lungs. The victims get severe burns if the fuel does not explode, but only burns. In case they inhale the hot fuel, they can also get internal burns. The undetonated fuel itself is toxic to humans. This short description of its effects provides a clear picture of the dangers this type of weapon poses.
As the name suggests, this type of weapon generates intense heat. It uses fuel and the oxygen around, to create the explosion. A novelty that it brings is the fact that it uses almost 100% fuel, and therefore it creates more energy than traditional weapons. The fact that it needs oxygen to function is a drawback because it is unsuitable for use in places where there is little to no oxygen. Using it at high altitudes, where the oxygen amount is reduced, or underwater is not recommended. Nevertheless, it proves to be very efficient, when it is used to kill people hidden in tunnels, caves, or bunkers, because the fuel can get into those spaces, unless they are very well sealed, and then it will detonate. Even windows, which let some air in are not safe enough.
As mentioned before, this is a two-stage weapon. That means that it has two, instead of one explosion. The first explosion detonates, as it hits the target. The next stage consists in opening a fuel container. This fuel is dispersed as a cloud. It is made up of very fine material, from a carbon-based fuel to small metal particles. Depending on the cloud temperature, it can either auto-ignite or simply get a very high temperature which burns the skin and the airways of the victims. If it ignites, it will create a fireball, a shock-wave, and then a vacuum, as it sucks up all the surrounding oxygen. This vacuum is harmful to the victims and leads to the internal organ injuries I have mentioned. It can create internal damage, by rupturing the lungs, for example. It creates a partial vacuum due to the fact that the gas temperature drops sharply. This is why it is also called "a vacuum bomb".
The blast wave lasts longer than that of a conventional weapon, and in extreme cases, it can even vaporize the body of the victim, due to its excessive power. The thermobaric weapons can be launched from airplanes, but since they are relatively light, they can also be fired using hand-held launchers. In confined spaces, they prove to be extremely destructive. They kill instantly people who are near the point of ignition. Victims situated further away, suffer from ruptured eardrums, internal organs, blindness, and severe concussions. Other victims may die within minutes from suffocation, which is also a terrible kind of death.
The first thermobaric weapons were used by the United States in the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, this type of weapon has also been used by terrorists. Its use is not prohibited by international law, nevertheless, this applies only to military targets. In the case of civil targets, there is a clear restriction regarding its use. Although no clear proof exists, it is believed that the Russians have used thermobaric weapons against civilians in Ukraine.
No matter what type of weapon is used, weapons are all dangerous and lead to terrible injuries. If civilians are the target, then the situation is even more tragic. Injuring and killing innocent children is a terrible war crime and it should be stopped at all costs, and the start of a World War 3 must be prevented, because if nuclear weapons will also be used, Europe and probably other regions of the world will be devastated for decades to come and the effects of radiation will lead to illness and suffering for millions of people perhaps for the next 100 years. Cancers will become very common and children will be more likely to be affected by this terrible disease, which is at the moment still lethal. Even if scientists will find a vaccine for cancer in the future, probably not all cancers will respond to it. It is more likely that it will cure only soft tissue types of cancer.