Who will be stronger between the bombs to come and the concretes of the future?

Bigger projectiles call for better bunkers.

All over the world, information concerning armaments is so sensitive that it is very largely protected, kept secret and sometimes misleading. Still, in Iran, in the 2000s, a rumor began to circulate about a bunker which would have succeeded in stopping a bomb intended to bring it down: the weapon concerned was a “Bunker buster”, designed to penetrate the walls of fortified targets.

At that time, Iran was the leader in ultra-high performance fiber-reinforced concrete technology and, obviously, the country was ahead. According to Popular Mechanics, the secret arms race between concrete and such bombs has not stopped since.

Stephanie Barnett is a researcher at the University of Portsmouth, UK, with an interest in creating ultra-strong concrete to protect civilian buildings from terrorist attacks. She explains that an army officer once told her, “If you make this material more resistant to explosions and shocks, we have to think about how to get through it.”

The competition is played internationally. Worried about the Iranian advance, Israel asked the United States in 2005 for more powerful weapons to penetrate the bunkers. Four years later, it was done: the Air Force received from its allies across the Atlantic the GBU-28, a 2,267 kg bomb with a penetration capacity about four times greater than its version former.

And things didn’t stop there: Israel is now asking for a new bomb, the GBU-72, tested for the first time in October 2021. For some, this is a sign that the concrete, for its part, is more more resistant.

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