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FAB-3000: Russia Turns Deadly Dumb Bomb Into Standoff Smart Munition

© Photo : Russian Defense MinistryA worker inspects a FAB-3000 three-ton bomb during an inspection of a military factory in Nizhny Novgorod by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. March 21, 2024. Screenshot of Russian Defense Ministry video.
A worker inspects a FAB-3000 three-ton bomb during an inspection of a military factory in Nizhny Novgorod by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. March 21, 2024. Screenshot of Russian Defense Ministry video. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.03.2024
Russia’s military factories have begun churning out the FAB-3000 – a three-ton high-explosive aerial bomb with a 1,400 kg warhead. What will the development mean for the ongoing proxy war in Ukraine?
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu conducted a surprise inspection of defense enterprises in the Nizhny Novgorod region on Thursday, visiting a facility producing weaponry ranging from artillery and tank ammunition to multi-ton airdropped bombs.
An enterprise director told the minister that the state defense order was being fulfilled in full. “Shoigu was told that the production of FAB-500 aerial bombs had increased many times over, the production of the FAB-1500 doubled, and that the mass production of the FAB-3000 had been organized in February,” the Defense Ministry said in a report on the visit.
Sputnik has written at length about the capabilities of the FAB-500 (a high-explosive 500 kg bomb) and the FAB-1500, another high-explosive munition with a 1,525 kg, or 1.5 ton guided aerial munition. You can find more information about them here and here.

FAB series munitions (FAB is a Russian acronym for "High-Explosive Aviation Bomb") have been reported on extensively in recent months in the context of their use as bunker busters in Ukraine, with both Russian and foreign observers interested in the upgrades Russian engineers have made to the freefalling "dumb bombs" to turn them into smart munitions. This has been made possible using the UMPK, or "Unified Planning and Correction Module," a universal add-on for FAB bombs which transforms them into wing and rudder-equipped, laser and satellite-guided glide-assisted standoff weapons. The principle behind the UMPK concept is similar to that of the US Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM upgrade kits for dumb munitions.

What is the FAB-3000?

Developed in the USSR in the second half of the 20th century, the FAB-3000 is a 3,067 kg bomb packed with 1,400 kg of explosives, and envisioned as a multi-purpose munition that can be used for strikes against fortified industrial facilities, underground structures, and dams. Dropped from altitudes of up to 16 km, the bomb can reach a flight speed of up to 1,200 km/h, and has an estimated range of 60-70 km.
The weapon has a destructive diameter of up to 39 meters, and its original variant was designed to be carried by the Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic strategic and maritime strike bomber.
“These bombs’ characteristics are simple, and come from the name of these weapons. These are high-explosive aerial bombs packing 1.5 tons of TNT,” veteran Soviet and Russian Army officer and military journalist Viktor Litovkin told Sputnik.

“These weapons have an enormous destructive effect. They can strike at strong points and at underground, concrete-reinforced command points. They can penetrate their targets, exploding and destroying everything, including underground warehouses, underneath concrete-reinforced roofs, and so on. Of course, they can also hit enemy personnel and military equipment. These are very powerful bombs because they cause enormous destruction,” Litovkin said.

© Photo : AltoingA side profile rendering of a FAB-3000-M54 aerial bomb.
A side profile rendering of a FAB-3000-M54 aerial bomb. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.03.2024
A side profile rendering of a FAB-3000-M54 aerial bomb.
Virtually “any protected objects” can be targeted, according to the observer, from “entire factories, for example, or separate workshops producing or repairing military equipment. Heating and power plants can be destroyed. Bridges as well.”
Fitted with an UMPK kit, the FAB-3000 becomes a deadly “smart” weapon with a standoff range, Litovkin said, pointing out that its onboard guidance systems can increase accuracy, while the addition of glide wings should enable it to fly 60-70 km to its target.
“That is, the aircraft can avoid entering the coverage area of the enemy’s air defenses, drop the bomb, and it will fly to the target and inflict damage, fulfilling its mission. These are its advantages – power and accuracy,” the observer said.
Along with the Tu-22M3, Litovkin believes the FAB-3000 can be expected to be carried by the Sukhoi Su-34 fighter bomber, and possibly Sukhoi Su-25 close air support and Sukhoi Su-24 tactical bombers.
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The FAB-3000 is not unique in Russia’s arsenal, the observer emphasized.
“It’s not about uniqueness….Different weapons are designed for different purposes. And the more diverse, the better. Also important is the cost of the target versus the cost of the munition intended to destroy it. That is, the ammunition should be cheaper than the target for which it is intended – so as to not shoot a sparrow with a cannon, so to speak,” Litovkin noted.
Before the Ukraine crisis, the FAB-3000’s incredible firepower limited its potential use cases, with the weapon reportedly seeing limited deployment in the Soviet war against CIA-backed rebels in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Their use in Ukraine was first reported in September 2022, although it’s likely these were FAB-3000s left over from Soviet stocks, without the UMPK guidance kits, whose existence was first reported on in late 2023.
Western observers have expressed serious concerns about Russia’s deployment of guided, gliding FAB series bombs due to the Ukrainian military’s limited ability to combat them, with Ukrainian commanders telling UK media this week that the only effective way to combat them is using military jets to shoot down their carriers – a luxury Ukraine does not have.
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