The US Air Force dropped the most powerful non-nuclear US weapon on Daesh’s positions on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Thursday. This is the GBU-43 bomb, also known as the “mother of all bombs” (MOAB, its small English name).
This is the first time that this type of bomb is used in combat. The MOAB weighs just over 10 tons and is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the US arsenal.
The bomb is filled with explosive H6, about 1.35 times more powerful than pure TNT for a yield of 11 tons on a radius of 1.6 km. It is nearly ten meters long, more than a meter in diameter and can only be dropped from specially modified C-130 transport aircraft.
CNN, which first reported the use of the bomb, said the MOAB bomb was selected because the targeted area was in an extremely remote area of the country, meaning the risk to civilians was minimal.
The power of the explosion would also be more effective in destroying underground tunnels in rocky terrain, as other conventional bombs might not penetrate.
The MOAB is so heavy that it is carried on the target by a C-130 cargo plane, then essentially pushed by the back when it is ready to be dropped.
The goal was to launch in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan’s tribal region, a porous border that extremists exploited to escape coalition forces.
A US soldier was killed in the province last week in the midst of ongoing anti-terrorism activities.
Until now, the extent of damage is not known.
General John Nicholson, head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said:
“This is the right ammunition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K”.
According to the US Air Force, the last test of the GBU-43 bomb in 2003 (video below) had caused a plume of dust and smoke visible more than 32 kilometers.
The MOAB was built by Dynetics, based in Alabama. The Pentagon ordered only 20 bombs, costing $ 16 million each. The entire program costs about $ 314 million.