An air burst is the detonation of an explosive device such as an anti-personnel artillery shell or a nuclear weapon in the air instead of on contact with the ground or target or a delayed armor-piercing explosion. The principal military advantage of an air burst over a ground burst is that the energy from the explosion (as well as any shell fragments) is distributed more evenly over a wider area; however, the peak energy is lower at ground zero. The term may also refer to naturally occurring air bursts arising from the explosions of incoming meteors as happened in the Tunguska event, the 1930 Curuçá River event, and the Chelyabinsk meteor
Chelyabinsk meteor event.
1.1 Nuclear weapons
2 Tactics 3 See also 4 References
The airburst fuzing system on a modern Carl Gustav recoilless rifle High Explosive round
A blast wave reflecting from a surface and forming a mach stem
The air burst is usually 100 to 1,000 m (330 to 3,280 ft) above the hypocenter to allow the shockwave of the fission or fusion driven explosion to bounce off the ground and back into itself, creating a shockwave that is more forceful than one from a detonation at ground level. This "mach stem" only occurs near ground level, and is similar in shape to the letter Y when viewed from the side. Airbursting also minimizes fallout by keeping the fireball from touching the ground, limiting the amount of debris that is vaporized and drawn up in the radioactive debris cloud. For the Hiroshima bomb, an air burst 550 to 610 m (1,800 to 2,000 ft) above the ground was chosen "to achieve maximum blast effects, and to minimize residual radiation on the ground as it was hoped U.S. troops would soon occupy the city". Tactics In conventional warfare, air bursts are used primarily against infantry in the open or unarmored targets, as the resulting fragments cover a large area but will not penetrate armor, entrenchments, or fortifications. In nuclear warfare, air bursts are used against soft targets (i.e. lacking the hardened construction required to survive overpressure from a nuclear explosion) such as cities in countervalue targeting, or airfields, radar systems and mobile ICBMs in counterforce targeting. See also
^ Major General David Ewing Ott. FIELD ARTILLERY, 1954–1973. Department of the Army. Washington, D.C., 1975. ^ https://www.orbitalatk.com/defense-systems/small-caliber-systems/30-20mmx173mm/ ^ https://www.orbitalatk.com/defense-systems/small-caliber-systems/30-20mmx173mm/docs/30-20x173_Fact_Sheet.pdf ^ Nichols, K. D., The Road to Trinity pages 175, 198, 223 (1987, Morrow, New York) ISBN 0