The Fine Art of Bomb Detonation

From Foreign Policy:
So what you are saying is that part of this ordnance disposal can actually just be detonating the bomb?

Sidney Alford: That’s right. Now, I think a more civilized method does not have the simple elegance of one hell of a bang — which is cheap and easy and does not require great skill. More sophisticated is the use of an explosive charge, which you hope will disrupt the bomb in one way or another but will not cause it to detonate.

There are two basic ways of doing this [latter task]. One is that you can fire what is called a “linear cutting charge” very close to the bomb. This cuts the bomb by producing what is effectively a blade of exceedingly fast-moving copper. Copper is a high-density material, and if you hit a large enough area of a bomb with material of sufficiently large velocity and density, the poor old bomb will detonate. So, this is a sophisticated way of causing a crude result. On a good day, it will split the bomb open and it may not even ignite the explosive. Then you have a bomb that you can burn out. This is one reason, no doubt, why the U.N. team has requested flares.

Looking through Alford’s occasional column, I’m swearing off using bombing as shorthand for an unsubtle solution for some time.

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