Oppenheimer (2023) focused on the creation of the technology and the regulation of atomic bombs: the most destructive weapons known to human creatures. But what are the most destructive weapons that are non-atomic?
We will use the U.S. - the mother of all militaries - as a case study.
Exploring the most powerful non-atomic weapons in the U.S. arsenal especially in regards to their explosive yield provides a deeper understanding of the strategic purpose and technological sophistication behind each system. These weapons are developed to ensure the United States maintains a decisive advantage in various conflict scenarios, leveraging explosive power to achieve tactical and strategic objectives without resorting to nuclear force.
MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS)
Yield: Approximately 0.25 tons of TNT
The ATACMS missile serves as a key long-range precision strike capability for the U.S. Army, capable of hitting targets up to 300 miles away. Its modular warhead options allow commanders to tailor the explosive yield for specific missions, making it an adaptable tool for shaping the battlefield and striking strategic assets deep behind enemy lines.
AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile)
Yield: Approximately 0.5 tons of TNT
Engineered for stealth and precision, the AGM-158 JASSM allows aircraft to engage fortified, high-value targets from outside enemy air defenses. Its 1,000-pound warhead delivers a potent combination of blast and fragmentation effects, ideal for neutralizing enemy command and control centers, air defenses, and critical infrastructure.
Tomahawk Cruise Missile
Yield: Approximately 0.5 tons of TNT
A cornerstone of U.S. naval power projection, the Tomahawk cruise missile offers unmatched flexibility and reach, capable of launching from surface ships and submarines to deliver precision strikes at long distances. Its programmable flight paths and GPS guidance ensure the warhead reaches its target with high accuracy, making it an essential asset in the initial stages of conflict to degrade enemy capabilities.
GBU-28 Bunker Buster
Yield: Specifically designed for deep penetration, the GBU-28's explosive payload is optimized not just for the initial impact but for the subsequent detonation within enemy fortifications. This ability to breach and destroy buried targets underscores the U.S. focus on neutralizing threats that are inaccessible to standard munitions, ensuring that no adversary can hide from justice.
Mk 48 ADCAP Torpedo
Yield: Though classified, the Mk 48 ADCAP torpedo is one of the most feared weapons in underwater warfare. Its advanced guidance system, combined with a powerful high-explosive warhead, allows it to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships with devastating efficiency, securing U.S. dominance beneath the waves.
MOP GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator
Yield: Approximately 5.3 tons of TNT
The MOP represents the pinnacle of penetration technology, capable of delivering its massive payload through concrete and soil to reach underground facilities thought to be beyond the reach of conventional attacks. This capability is critical in the modern era, where adversaries increasingly rely on subterranean complexes to shield their military assets from aerial bombardment.
GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB)
Yield: Approximately 11 tons of TNT
The MOAB's sheer destructive power is unmatched in the conventional arsenal, designed to obliterate entire grid squares with a single blast. Beyond its physical impact, the MOAB (also dubbed, "the Mother of All Bombs") serves a strategic psychological role, demonstrating the overwhelming force the U.S. is capable of deploying against its adversaries, thereby deterring aggression and promoting stability through strength.
The development and deployment of these high-yield conventional weapons underscore the United States' commitment to maintaining a versatile and powerful military capability. By prioritizing precision, adaptability, and raw destructive power, these systems play a crucial role in deterring conflict, supporting allies, and, when necessary, decisively defeating adversaries. The strategic value of these munitions extends beyond their individual capabilities, contributing to a broader posture of strength that supports the U.S. objectives of global security and stability.
May we all live free and in peace with each other!