Could dropping bombs help the U.S. Air Force battle California wildfires? | GBRI

California Wildfires

The idea of trying to extinguish a raging wildfire by dropping a bomb on it might sound ridiculous to many, but this is exactly what a U.S. Air Force staff officer has in mind to battle California wildfires. What’s more, the idea has been tried by the Swedish Air Force earlier this summer with satisfactory results.

On its surface, the notion flies in the face of logic — how could an explosion put out a fire? But USAF Staff Officer Mike Benitez says shockwaves caused by detonation can blow out fires like candles on a birthday cake.

“This was recently put into practice in Sweden, where a Gripen fighter jet from the Swedish Air Force dropped a single 500-pound bomb on a forest fire, momentarily depriving the blaze of oxygen and successfully extinguishing it within 100 yards of the detonation point,” wrote Benitez, a former Marine and current Air Force officer on his blog.

The airman suggests using a B-1 bomber to deliver 500-pound BLU-129/B low-collateral damage warheads. He picked the plane because it can carry a lot, and the bombs because they create a larger shockwave with less shrapnel than most bombs, making them ideal for snuffing out fires.

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