Russia initiates mass production of 1.5-ton M54 planning bombs

Reports indicate that the defense sector in Russia has initiated mass production of a devastating weapon, the FAB-1500-M54. Weighing in at 1.5 tons, this bomb boasts the ability to create an inferno equivalent to a 20-story residential building’s height. This alarming news regarding the mass production of such destructive bombs was unveiled by the Eastern European intelligence agency, NEXTA

Russia drops new 'fire-and-forget' bombs outside Ukrainian air defense upab-1500
Photo credit: Telegram

Many conflict watchers have noted an increase in Russia’s deployment of these fearsome bombs. NEXTA highlighted a recent instance where the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] utilized such a device to target a high-rise structure in the town of Krasnogorovka, near Donetsk. 

As early as November 2023, the head of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleschuk, raised concerns over indications of Russia’s preparedness for a large-scale deployment of FAB-1500s. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the production location of these bombs in February of the same year. Reports from the Russian press at that time implied that the production of this bomb had already begun with the onset of the conflict. 

What do we know about this bomb?

The Russian military has recently introduced the FAB-1500, a high-explosive bomb equipped with a standard planning and adjustment module [UMPK], into the battlefront in Ukraine. This information has been reported by Obektivno. Touted for its precision of up to five meters, the bomb can generate an explosion crater approximately fifteen meters across. The projected impact zone from deploying this ordinance spans roughly 2 sq km. Including a basic and satellite-guided universal planning and correction module, the weight of the FAB-1500M-54 bomb is 1,500 kilograms. 

After an extended period of testing and adjustments, the Russian Aerospace Forces have utilized the UMPK FAB-1500 M54 high-explosive cluster bombs on an assigned target. According to the reports, the bomb struck the predetermined point with impressive precision. This news was shared by a former military pilot and the publisher of a blog dedicated to Russian military aviation known as Fighterbomber on his Telegram channel. 

Russia initiates mass production of 1.5-ton M54 planning bombs
Photo credit: Twitter

In essence, these bombs function as airborne directed munitions, enabling them to follow a set trajectory towards a target positioned at a significant distance. This essentially means that the bombs can be launched by their carriers without the need to penetrate enemy airspace, thus avoiding hostility from air defenses. The explosive payload of the bomb is under 700 kilograms. The FAB-1500 boasts compatibility with Su-34 and Su-35 fighter aircraft.

September 2023

Sources indicate that the initial deployment of this bomb took place last year in September. It was delivered via a Russian Su-34, a multirole combat aircraft renowned for its ability to release a variety of high-end munitions. These include long-range weapons and hypersonic Dagger missiles, a fact affirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defense. 

The social media community has been rife with speculations, positing that the aircraft can carry a minimum of two UMPK FAB-1500 M54 bombs. There are also discussions about this capacity being expanded to three. This would empower the Su-34 to individually release or simultaneously launch these three bombs, each toward a different target. These allegations have been put forth by a post on Fighterbomber’s Telegram account. Notably, the blogger highlighted that the Ukrainians lack effective defense strategies against these FAB-type bombing attacks. 

Russia initiates mass production of 1.5-ton M54 planning bombs
Photo credit: Twitter

The extent of this new bomb’s impact significantly outclasses that of its present, lighter alternatives such as the FAB-500 M62. Now that it has undergone operational testing and proven its efficacy, a spike in the bomb’s production is expected.

Hard to catch

On January 4, 2023, it was first revealed that Russia was deploying universal bombs equipped with wing kits for their operations in Ukraine. This significant information was initially disseminated by the Fighterbomber Telegram channel. 

Russia initiates mass production of 1.5-ton M54 planning bombs
Photo credit: Twitter

Fast forward to April, we received word from Yuriy Ignat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force. He informed us that Russian forces have been launching “as many as 20 guided bombs per day”. He goes on to clarify that these bombs are dispatched from Su-35 Flanker and Su-34 Fullback aircraft, which adeptly avoid entering Ukraine’s airspace. 

The Ukrainian authorities, troubled by this issue, have voiced their concerns numerous times. Their main difficulty boils down to intercepting these bombs. Their sophisticated technology makes it, in their view, “nearly impossible to bring down.” The Russian Ministry of Defense has also provided its perspective on the situation. On May 8, 2023, they confirmed that a Su-34 fighter-bomber armed with UMPK module bombs targeted and hit a base of foreign mercenaries near the village of Ivanovka in the Kharkiv region.

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