The FAB-500 is a Soviet-designed 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) general purpose air-dropped bomb with a high-explosive warhead, primarily used by the Russian Aerospace Forces, former Soviet republics and customer countries. The original M-54 model was rolled out in 1954, shaped for internal carriage by heavy bombers, a low-drag M-62 version in 1962 was intended for fighter bomber external hardpoint carriage. The bomb is unguided, features a single nose fuze, and is compatible with most models of Soviet aircraft.
|FAB-500 M-62 General Purpose (GP) Bomb|
|Type||High-drag and low-drag general-purpose bomb|
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Produced||1954–present (M-54); 1962–present (M-62)|
|Mass||500 kilograms (1,100 lb)|
|Length||2,470 millimetres (97.2 in)|
|Diameter||400 millimetres (15.7 in)|
|Filling weight||300 kilograms (660 lb)|
The FAB-500 was largely employed over Afghanistan by Soviet and allied Afghan forces during the 1980s and saw use during the Syrian civil war where it was carried by both Russian and Syrian warplanes. The M62 variant of the FAB-500 was used by Russian military forces in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. On 13 March 2022 and 14 May 2022, FAB-500 bombs were found in Ukrainian cities Chernihiv and Odesa.
In March 2023, Russian Su-35s have launched a number of FAB-500M-62, wreckage of which indicates that these have been fitted with a JDAM type kit, involving pop-out wings and satellite navigation. It's unknown whether it has an internal navigation system. Another theory is that the bomb has been fitted with wings simply to extend its range. It also is believed to give Russian aircraft a stand-off ability to hit Ukrainian targets without risking exposure to Ukrainian air defences.
On 4 April, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said of these weapons: "Enemy aircraft are active. The enemy is deploying guided bombs, which can travel dozens of kilometres (up to 70). The enemy deploys 10–15, and up to 20, such bombs each day along the entire line of contact, dropped from Su-35 and Su-34 jets outside the range of our air defence systems. This is a threat to us, and we have to urgently respond to it. For now, we have no equipment that would allow us to effectively respond [to this threat]. In order to push those jets further away from our borders, we need long-range air defence systems like Patriot, as well as, of course, modern multi-purpose fighter jets." He further added that such bombs were "normally not very precise and thus pose a great threat to civilian facilities."
In May, converted FAB-500 glide bombs are something Ukrainian air defences cannot intercept. They are only airborne for up to 70 seconds at most. Appearing on the radar as “little dots”. Ukrainian officials claim that it is easier to interpret Kinzhal missiles. Yuriy Ignat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said: “Trying to intercept these bombs isn’t effective. It’s not even rational. The only way out of this situation and the only way to stop it is to attack the planes that launch these bombs.”