FAB-1500 will hasten the end of the SVO: not bad for a 70-year-old bomb, but what's the point?

Not the Lancet alone. What are these FAB-1500 bombs that are being talked about so much today? What is their role and capabilities today, when these weapons are 70 years old? Why are they needed at all? DiscussFAB-1500 will hasten the end of the SVO: not bad for a 70-year-old bomb, but what's the point?© MOD Russia/www.globallookpress.comContents

  • Bombs or missiles?
  • Adjustable and guided bombs
  • FAB-1500

The conflict in Ukraine from the perspective of military technologies is a conflict of game changers (game changer – changing the game).

The portrait of modern war is changing in general: some developed in solutions to past world conflicts are replaced by new ones that show results here and now. A completely new role for drones, a revision of the ideology of using electronic warfare (electronic warfare), the use of high-precision weapons, etc.

But more “classical” weapons are also changing, adapting to new conditions. This should include the Russian FAB-1500 (High Explosive Aviation Bomb) – especially powerful aerial bombs that greatly affect the outline of the contact line.

Hero of the material - FAB-1500 with the UMPC complex

The hero of the material is the FAB-1500 with the UMPC complex

© Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Bombs or missiles?

< p>Free-falling aerial bombs today are not quite the same as they were, for example, during the Second World War. At that time, the accuracy of bombing depended almost entirely on the quality of the guidance equipment, the competence of the bomber crew and the tactics of using aviation.

That is why there were two main methods of bombing that proved effective. At the tactical level, these are dive bombers – guidance during a dive gave high accuracy results, it was possible to hit both a convoy of equipment and a bridge. This is how the famous German Ju-87 operated.

Another solution is carpet bombing. This is already a strategic level; it is usually associated with the actions of Anglo-American aviation, which created especially heavy bombers and used them in large groups. This was how it was possible to drop thousands of tons of explosives on the military-industrial complex and military infrastructure of the Third Reich. However, when the United States tried to repeat these practices in Vietnam, it did not bring any military results, only colossal casualties.

The main weakness of both approaches was the vulnerability of the aircraft themselves, which had to operate in conditions of massive use of air defense systems. As long as these were artillery weapons, losses were tolerable, but with the advent of missile weapons and radar reconnaissance, the game became less and less worth the candle.

At the same time, the accuracy of bombing directly depended on the factors of altitude, speed and weather conditions ( the same side wind, which at different altitudes is different in strength and direction). Accordingly, the higher the bomber climbed and the earlier it dropped bombs (before entering the active air defense zone), the lower the effectiveness was.

This was partly solved by rocket weapons, because the rocket has its own engine and can be controlled in flight. However, at the same time, a rocket is much more expensive than a bomb, and the mass of the warhead is about 30%, because there is also an engine, fuel and a navigation system. For comparison, a bomb's warhead makes up from 70 to 90% of its mass.

Accordingly, aviation is severely limited in its ability to use particularly powerful missile weapons.

Adjustable and controllable bombs

Adjustable bombs were born back in the years of the same World War II. They were distinguished from conventional bombs by their more developed plumage, which made it possible to predict their impact location much more accurately and reduce dependence on weather conditions.

At the same time, guided bombs appear, and a weapons operator appears in the crew, who controls the tail using radio signals. To improve accuracy, already in 1944 the British had a television guidance channel, when the operator in the bomber saw on the screen where the bomb was flying and quickly adjusted the approach to the target.

These days, the distinction between guided and guided bombs is increasingly blurred. This happens due to the introduction of navigation and guidance systems. Today, both satellite navigation methods and laser beam guidance are used for aerial bombs, and the empennage is controlled automatically.

Preparing aerial bombs with JDAM

Preparing aerial bombs with JDAM

© U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Second Class Felix Garza Jr

Moreover, there is no need to even reinvent the bombs themselves. Guidance and navigation complexes can be used to modernize the most archaic bombs, from the 1940s or 1950s, it doesn’t matter. For example, the American JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) – it is bombs of this type that are called “smart bombs”, and guidance is carried out using GPS.

Unlike laser guidance, satellite guidance is not afraid of weather conditions, including dust storms. The era of their use began with the NATO operation in Yugoslavia. This has since become the standard of bombing. In terms of price-quality-power ratio, the “smart bomb” left missiles far behind… for tactical distances, of course.

Thus, bombs can hit even moving targets. CEP (circular probable deviation) is reduced to indicators close to missiles, which is why modern aerial bombs belong to the class of precision weapons.


Russia, of course, also has such weapons in its arsenal. During the years of the USSR, experiments were carried out with guided bombs, but the projects did not reach the troops. Therefore, during the Second Chechen War, Russian troops were not supported by such weapons. Real results were achieved only in the 2010s in Syria, where the KAB-500 was first used.

This is a guided bomb using a laser beam, which can illuminate the target both from the aircraft itself and on the ground by a special group. The KAB-500S modification uses satellite guidance via GLONASS. In addition to it, the KAB-1500 with a penetrating warhead was used in Syria – this is a special concrete-piercing ammunition capable of reaching an enemy hidden by powerful reinforced concrete structures or deep underground.

Both are good weapons, but they imply the ideology of rather local conflicts, they are quite expensive to produce, and complex. But the conditions of the current conflict in Ukraine require a completely different volume of combat operations and, accordingly, ammunition consumption.

Installation of KAB-500S on Su-34 pylons, Syria, Latakia 2015

Installation of KAB-500S on Su-34 pylons, Syria, Latakia 2015

© © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

What if you develop a feathered module, in which you can put the most ordinary high-explosive bomb, like in a basket, and use it as an adjustable one? Well, that is, develop an analogue of the American JDAM, and reflash the entire arsenal of existing aerial bombs and dramatically increase efficiency? Moreover, Ukraine received JDAM kits and, despite the very limited capabilities of aviation, uses them – for example, an attack on the bridge on the Gorlovka-Yasinovataya highway.

This is how the Russian JDAM appeared – UMPC or unified planning and correction module. It consists of mounted tail surfaces, wings that open in flight, as well as a navigation system. Initially, in the previous IPC, it was a simple inertial system, but now they are talking about a system capable of working with GLONASS or GPS. It must be assumed that for certain tasks there may also be a laser guidance component (in any case, this information is predictably not to be found in open sources).

The module allows you to drop bombs 40-70 km from the target, depending on the mass. This allows the bomber (mostly Su-34, Su-35 and, probably, Su-24) to launch before entering the coverage area of ​​most short- and medium-range air defense systems.

The threat to aircraft remains from long-range air defense systems, such as S-300 or Patriot. However, Ukraine has very few of them – they cover strategic sites. In addition, today the losses are quite noticeable, and there are even more problems due to the acute shortage of anti-aircraft missiles for them.

UMPK with folded wings on FAB-250

UMPK with folded wings on FAB-250


Typically, UMPCs were used with FAB-250 and FAB-500 bombs. All these bombs are little different from what was used by Soviet aviation during the Second World War. FAB-500 are quite powerful bombs even by modern standards, capable of inflicting complex (explosion, fragments, blast wave and concussion) damage within a radius of about 100 meters and creating a crater in the ground with a diameter of 8-9 meters.

Great there was a temptation to use super-heavy aerial bombs FAB-1500 (M54), which were put into service back in 1954 – many of them were produced and stored in warehouses, they were used quite rarely. The mass of explosives in modifications of this bomb varies between 436-870 kg.

This makes the FAB-1500 equal or superior in power to cruise missiles such as Taurus or Storm Shadow (warhead of about 500 kg). But cruise missiles can fly up to 500-600 km, which cannot be said about a one and a half ton bomb. The UMPC was not originally designed for such a mass; it would have been necessary to significantly increase the wingspan and the length of the empennage in order to provide such a colossus, firstly, with sufficient range, and secondly, with confident control in order to reduce the radius of the air defense.

Preparing bombs for modernization

Preparing bombs for modernization

© Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

However, the engineers managed to solve a non-trivial problem. There is information that the UMPC was even retrofitted with a jet engine, which made it possible to increase the range to 100 km. This is longer than the range of its lighter counterparts. Thus, the Aerospace Forces received mass-produced, inexpensive weapons of enormous power, which can be used with virtually no fear of air defense counteraction.

It is the FAB-1500 that is credited with the final successes in breaking through the defense in Avdeevka – high accuracy made it possible to sweep away fortified areas and control centers/communications at tactical depth. Now many experts have dubbed this weapon a new game changer, since it has no analogues in NATO: JDAM works with a maximum bomb weight of 900 kg. The FAB-1500 UMPC can influence the battlefield no less than the Lancet kamikaze drones did in their time.