This week, Russia tested its answer to the US weapon.
The destructive capability of these devices is impressive to say the least:
The U.S. bomb has a destructive force equivalent to 10 tonnes of TNT, while Russia says its bomb is equivalent to 40 tonnes.
Not quite in the range of what nuclear weapons produce, but that doesn't minimize the destructive capability either:
The two countries say such bombs are capable of massive destruction yet do not harm the environment as nuclear weapons do. They are also useful for attacking underground and hidden targets because the explosive blast can spread through tunnels. While a deeply buried target may be immune to traditional bombs, a thermobaric weapon can penetrate through a tunnel system and damage any equipment or systems, thus effectively neutralizing — if not actually destroying — the target.
However, the nuts and bolts of these things aren't the point. The context within which the US developed its thermobaric device is Afghanistan, now Russia, China and India have these weapons, a development that signals the emergence of a new arms race that will live on long after the storms of Afghanistan and Iraq have passed. I wonder if Dubya and crew are cackling gleefully about this, or did they simply forget about the long term impact of starting another arms race?