Byline: MARK McGIVERN
BRITAIN is developing a "barbaric" body-crushing bomb which human rights campaigners are demanding be banned.
The high-pressure thermobaric bombs, which literally squeeze the life out of victims, are similar to the ones used by the Russians to blitz the Chechnyan capital of Grozny into submission.
Their devastating power led peace campaigners to call for a ban - but Britain now plans to have the technology by 2005.
Scots explosives expert Major Ian Orr, commander of the Army Urban Warfare Training Team, last night told the Record: "This has been confirmed and it is going to happen.
"There is nothing controversial about this and we would not do anything illegal with this technology."
The weapon - the effect of which has been compared to that of a tactical nuclear bomb - renders conventional body armour useless.
It uses a massive wave of heat and blast pressure, rather than high explosive, to destroy buildings and kill people over a large area.
The weapon in development by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in Kent is, however, thought to be less destructive than the "fuel-air weapons" created by the Russians.
Human rights campaigners claim the effects of the bomb are indiscriminate, causing horrific internal injuries to anyone caught within range of their detonation.
The Russian version works by detonating a scattering charge within a bomb, rocket or grenade warhead.
The contents then form an aerosol cloud, which turns into a fireball consuming all the oxygen in the area and causing an enormous overpressure.
Any soldiers - or civilians - caught under the cloud are literally crushed to death.
Injuries to those on the edge of the strike zone could include severe burns, broken …