Special Report

This Is the Deadliest Weapon in History

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been anxiety over the threats Russian President Vladmir Putin has made about the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield. These have explosive powers greater than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they do not have the destructive power of intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads. Nuclear weapons are currently the deadliest weapons of all time. 

Weapons have evolved over time, from swords and crossbows to rifles and machine guns to rockets and missiles to nuclear weapons – and they have become more deadly. The question is, by how much? (These are the most powerful nuclear weapons ever built.)

To attempt to quantify the lethality of weapons, Col. Trevor N. Dupuy created the lethality index. In his report, “HIstorical Trends Related to Weapon Lethality,” which was issued in 1964 by the Historical Evaluation and Research Organization for the U.S. Army Combat Developments Command, Dupuy rates the lethal potential of various weapons by measures such as the number of potential targets per strike, relative effect, effective range, accuracy, reliability, and mobility.

Based on Dupuy’s calculations, a sword has a lethality index of 20, an automatic grenade launcher has a lethality index of 1,500,000, and a 1-megaton hydrogen bomb has a lethality index of 661,500,000. (This is the country with the most nuclear weapons.)

In the late ‘70s, another researcher, Julian Perry Robinson, used Dupuy’s 1964 index to calculate the lethality of, at the time, more modern weapons. Based on that research, a 25-megaton nuclear bomb has a lethality index of 210,000,000,000 – the highest calculated. 

Robinson pointed out that these are crude calculations, especially when it comes to nuclear weapons lethality as they do not take into account the remaining deadly radiation.

See 24/7 Wall St.’s list of 18 of the deadliest weapons of all time.

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