September 18, 2007 Russia has just announced the completion of successful testing of what it dubs the “Father of All Bombs” – four times more powerful than the USA’s comparatively placid “Mother of All Bombs". Both devices are viewed - somewhat dubiously - as “environmentally friendly” alternatives to nuclear devices, as they leave no radioactive fallout.

Russia has made a pointed display of its most impressive piece of non-nuclear ordnance, claiming it to be the largest and most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the world. Russia released details of testing of the “Father of All Bombs” - an air-delivered thermobaric weapon that releases and then detonates a cloud of small explosive particles, creating a shockwave and fireball the equivalent of 44 tonnes of TNT. America's "Mother of All Bombs," by comparison, is the equivalent of only 11 tonnes of TNT.

During the field test, conducted on September 11, the bomb was dropped from a Tupolev Tu-160 heavy bomber, on a parachute. The mushroom cloud it creates would fool many enemies into thinking they had been the victim of a nuclear attack, adding to its psychological impact, and the pressure wave it creates can literally suck the air out of the lungs of people outside its blast radius.

While such bombs are considered alternatives to nuclear weapons, they’re still far less powerful. The “Little Boy” atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima, for example, was nearly 300 times more powerful than the new Russian device, putting out a blast equivalent to around 13,000 tonnes of TNT – and they all pale in comparison to Russia’s 1961 test of its "Tsar Bomba", a three-stage 50-megatonne hydrogen bomb equivalent to some 50 million tonnes of TNT. The Tsar Bomba, which caused a seismic shock that could still be measured on its third trip around the world, is regarded as the most powerful device ever used in the history of mankind.