[Image Source: Sandia Laboratories]
In 1988 the US government wanted to know just how strong reinforced concrete is, the very same stuff used in construction of nuclear reactor facilities. Clearly, the best way to execute the experiment is to launch an F4 Phantom jet at 500 MPH and slam it head-on directly into a slab of concrete.
One would imagine having a 9/11 style attack carried out on a nuclear reactor would be nothing short of detrimental. Fortunately, scientists and engineers have considered the unlikely event and have already taken excessive preemptive precautionaries to prevent a nuclear meltdown.
Ever since the first nuclear power plant became live back on June 26, 1954, in Obninsk, Russia, the world has been in fear that a devastating accident or terrorist attack would ensue, leading to the end of the world. While there have been a couple of incidents which caused nuclear reactors to leak radiation, the accidents were never a result of terrorist activity. The lack of human imposed damage is largely due to the fact that many government agencies have developed impeccably tough walls to keep radiation in and keep terrorists out.
Can reinforced concrete stop a jet going 770 KM/H?
Sandia Laboratories took the initiative to examine the strength of reinforced concrete by launching a fully-loaded F-4 Phantom jet directly at a massive slab of concrete to investigate the survivability of a nuclear power plant in the event of a terrorist attack. The following clip shows the incredible experiment.
Miraculously, the concrete block survived almost completely unscathed. The test aimed to investigate the impact of a jet onto a piece of reinforced concrete measuring 3.66 meters thick. The aircraft of choice is a fully functional F-4 Phantom. It was loaded onto a rocket sled track and was accelerated up to 480 MPH, or about 770 KM/H where it slammed directly into a slab of reinforced concrete. The jet did not contain jet fuel but was rather filled with water. The test did not look to examine the damage of an ensuing fire.
The jet was traveling so fast upon impact; it atomized into millions of minute pieces. The only sections which remained intact were the small section of the wing which missed the target entirely. All while the video is mesmerizing in its magnificent deconstruction, the resulting damage to the concrete block is surprisingly minuscule.
The damage left behind the nuclear reactor was merely a scratch.
The maximum scar depth was 60 mm at a maximum. The structural damage sustained was merely a scratch. However, the force launched the block back 1.82 m. Nevertheless, behind the impact remained an incredibly high-energy impact. As the engine exploded into tiny fragments, it experienced an acceleration force of over 700 g.
While the experiment looks incredibly devastating, it proves reinforced concrete can easily stop a jet from inflicting serious damage to a nuclear reactor. Although not all factors were examined during the experiment, it is important to note the many more safety precautions government officials take to ensure the security of the reactor and the people of the country.