A graphite bomb (also known as the "Blackout Bomb" or the "Soft Bomb") is a non-lethal weapon used to disable electrical power systems. Graphite bombs work by spreading a cloud of extremely fine, chemically treated carbon filaments over electrical components, causing a short-circuit and a disruption of the electrical supply. The filaments are only a few hundredths of an inch thick and can float in the air like a dense cloud. The weapon is sometimes referred to as a "soft bomb", since its effects are largely confined to the targeted electrical power facility, with minimal risk of collateral damage. Graphite bombs only work on power lines that are not insulated.
A graphite bomb consists of a metal canister that is filled with spools of graphite filament and an explosive device. The canister is typically labeled "BLU-114/B". The BLU is a military acronym for "bomb live unit". Once the bomb is ejected from a plane or missile, the device's explosive is activated. The explosive detonates, breaking the graphite filament into very fine pieces which is ejected from the metal canister into a large gas-like plume.
The graphite bomb was first used against Iraq in the Gulf War (1990–1991), knocking out 85% of the electrical supply. Similarly, the BLU-114/B "Soft-Bomb" graphite bomb was used by NATO against Serbia in May 1999, disabling 70% of that country's power grid. After initial success in disabling Serbian electric power systems, the electric supply was restored in less than 24 hours. The BLU-114/B was again used a few days later to counter Serbian efforts to restore damage caused by the initial attack. In the later stage of Operation Allied Force, NATO's air forces used conventional bombs and rockets to target power highlines and transformer stations.
South Korea has announced plans to build graphite bombs for use against North Korea to paralyse its electric grid in the event of a new war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula, subject to funding from the country's finance ministry. The weapons have been developed by South Korea's Agency for Defence Development, Yonhap news agency reported, as one element of the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program. South Korea has announced that it is ready to start production at any time.
- "CBU-94 "Blackout Bomb" BLU-114/B "Soft-bomb"". Global Security. Retrieved 1 September 2017.