'Daisy Cutter' Bombs Dropped
On Taliban Caves
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent

The United States has used the biggest conventional bomb in its armoury the 15,000lb (6,800kg) Daisy Cutter for the first time in the campaign.
The fuel-air explosive device, which detonates just above the ground and whose blast has been described as being like a nuclear weapon without the fallout, was used twice on Taliban and al-Qa'ida fortifications in the last few days.
Its use is a significant escalation of air strikes and follows the receipt of intelligence from the Russians on underground fortifications they built during their war in Afghanistan, which have been taken over by the Afghan regime, as well as caves used by the mujahedin. A Pentagon spokesman said: "We have better knowledge now of where these caves are and who or what is inside them."
The bombs are pushed out of the back of C-130 aircraft on pallets and detonate about three feet above the ground, covering a mile-wide area with a mushroom cloud of aluminium powder which burns at about 5,500C (10,000F).
Such is the pressure generated by the blast that underground tunnels and structures are crushed and people inside incinerated. The pattern of the explosion is said to resemble a daisy-shaped biscuit cutter.
The use of the bomb and its variations has always been controversial. It was first used by the United States in the last days of the Vietnam War and then in the Gulf War.
In response to worries about its destructive capabilities, raised in Parliament during the Gulf War, Alan Clark, who was the minister for defence procurement, said: "Fuel-air bombs were used by the United States only to clear minefields."
Last night, General Peter Pace, Deputy Chief of the US Defence Staff, described the bombs as extremely useful weapons for the Afghanistan conflict and said they might be used again.
One of the uses for the bombs would be to decontaminate soil which had been infected with anthrax. However, there is no suggestion that this was the reason for its deployment in the campaign in Afghanistan.
The US is also set to introduce the Global Hawk, the most advanced long-range unmanned reconnaisance aircraft, to the conflict.
The £30m plane can stay airborne for 36 hours and cruise at 65,000 feet, far above the range of anti-aircraft weapons. It provides photographs for officers back at base in the US.
The Hawks are expected to replace the Predators, which are cheaper, at £3.3m each, but slower and fly at a lower altitude. The Taliban claims to have shot down one of them.

This Site Served by TheHostPros