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Russia drops explosive aerial bomb FAB-3000 on Ukraine: Details revealed

Russia drops explosive aerial bomb FAB-3000 on Ukraine: Details revealed Photo: The Russian occupiers claimed a strike with a FAB-3000 M-54 aircraft bomb on Ukraine (Russian media)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

Russia claims to have allegedly used the FAB-3000 M-54 high-explosive aerial bomb for the first time. It is possible that the Russian invaders managed to modify the Soviet weapon by filling it with a new module, according to ISW, Defense Express, and Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Illia Yevlash.

"Russian forces used the new FAB-3000 M-54 bomb with a unified planning and correction module (UMPC) to strike Ukrainian positions in Kharkiv region for the first time," ISW says in a report on June 20.

Russian strike on Lyptsi

In particular, according to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian sources widely disseminated alleged footage of the first strike by a FAB-3000 M-54 on a Ukrainian deployment point in Lyptsi, Kharkiv region, on June 20, noting that the bomb allegedly caused significant damage, even falling 10 meters from the intended target.

It is currently impossible to verify the authenticity of the footage disseminated by Russian propagandists. Thus, ISW, referring to the data of Russian propagandists, writes that the strike on June 20 was allegedly not particularly accurate, but the radius of the FAB-3000 compensates for its lack of accuracy.

Defense Express notes that the bomb itself did miss, but the fact is that by constantly increasing the caliber of the bomb, the Russians are trying to compensate for the shortcomings of the navigation and control system of the UMPC kits.

Ukrainian Air Force's statement

The Ukrainian Air Force has already seen the video. However, they note that a truly new application will be possible to talk about when they officially manage to collect the wreckage or at least get acquainted with the site.

"Therefore, we need to wait a little bit until we can explore this place and tell our viewers with certainty what type of munition it was. FAB-3000 is still a rare case. Probably, if the examination does confirm it, it will be one of the first cases when Russians used such a powerful aircraft bomb," says Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Illia Yevlash.

FAB-3000 M-54 high-explosive aerial bomb

ISW analysts note that former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu first announced the serial production of FAB-3000, a variant of dumb bombs weighing more than 3,000 kilograms that can be converted into guided glide bombs with the addition of a UMPC modification, during a visit to the Nizhny Novgorod region in March 2024.

"In the case of the FAB-3000 M-54, we are talking about a munition 3.3 meters long, 1 meter in diameter (along the stabilizer), with a total weight of 3,067 kg, of which about 1,200 kg is explosive. Therefore, given this, a bomb missed by even a few tens of meters is less important than compared to a FAB-250 or FAB-500," the Defense Express article says.

Russian sources have previously praised the production of the FAB-3000 but noted that its weight and overall size would make it difficult to deliver by Russian tactical aircraft.

Therefore, as Defense Express adds, the main question remains the carrier of these FAB-3000s with UMPC, although it is obvious that we are talking about a Su-34 frontline bomber, which can allegedly carry ammunition weighing up to 4 tons on the central pylon. The range of such a munition is also questionable, as it may be less than that of smaller caliber bombs.

FAB-3000 M-54 influence on war against Ukraine

According to ISW analysts, the fact that Russian forces have figured out how to launch the FAB-3000 if indeed confirmed, is a significant development and will increase the destructive potential of Russia's ongoing attacks with planned bombs against Ukrainian forces and infrastructure.

"Russian forces have already increased guided and unguided glide bomb use against Ukraine, particularly in the Kharkiv region, to devastating effect, and should Russian forces be able to launch massive barrages of FAB-3000s (or even heavier guided glide bombs) they will be able to cause even more widespread damage to Ukrainian frontline positions and critical infrastructure," the analysts say.

Russian bombing of Mariupol with high-explosive aerial bomb

The Russians most often use FAB-250 and FAB-500 for strikes against Ukraine, converting them, as Yevlash says, into a unified interspecies glide munition.

But back in April 2022, Russian occupiers were using FAB-3000 bombs, which are more than 30 years old, in the bombing of Mariupol. At that time, they did not have the UMPC, which the Russians claim to have now.

In particular, these bombs were used by Russian troops to cover the positions of Ukrainian forces at Azovstal, dropped from Tu-22M3 bombers. As Defense Express analysts noted at the time, these were FAB-3000 M46s weighing 1600 kg and carrying an explosive charge of 1400 kg.

"The USSR Air Force adopted these bombs in 1946. Eight years later, a new, updated version appeared. The last use of the FAB-3000 bombs was during the Soviet ten-year war in Afghanistan," the agency notes.