5 things to know about the MOAB
5 things to know about the MOAB
When US forces fired the army’s largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan, President Donald Trump described it as “another successful job.”
Better known as the “mother of all bombs”, the weapon is officially known as the GBN-43 / B Massive Air Blast (MOAB).
On Thursday, it was abandoned by a system of tunnels and caves used by ISIS forces in Nangarhar province in northeastern Afghanistan.
This is what we know about the MOAB.
The bomb is 30 feet long, weighs 21,600 pounds and is filled with 18,000 pounds of explosives. It is also 40% more powerful than its predecessor, the Daisy Cutter of Vietnam, which was abandoned at the Tora Bora cave complex, where it was known that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in 2001.
The explosive performance of the weapon is a fraction of a nuclear weapon, but still has a devastating punch.
Never used in combat
By Thursday, the impact of the MOAB had only been felt in controlled trials.
The bomb was developed as a technology project from the Air Force Research Laboratory in 2002 for use in Iraq and was first tested at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida in 2003.
Air Force officials at the time reported that the blast had sent a dust cloud to 10,000 feet in the air and generated a blast of fire several hundred meters wide. A huge cloud of fungi was visible from 20 miles away.
It was used to direct tunnels
The target was the ISIS tunnels and deep caves in a remote mountainous area of Afghanistan.
“In this area, mountains and caves, you want something that can have an explosive effect on caves and tunnels,” military analyst Rick Francona said of “Inside Politics” on Thursday.
“And this is the weapon to do that, the overpressure of the weapon will send shock waves through the tunnel systems and that will kill almost everyone within a certain range.”
That’s why you use this weapon … it will trigger a big explosion, it will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area, “he said.
It is precise and powerful
Despite the enormous power of the MOAB, it is a smart bomb with wings and grille fins for orientation, and usually only explodes the feet off the ground, a spokesman for Eglin AFB said after the test in 2003.
The MOAB is a thermobaric pump – that is, it generates heat and pressure – and is not the largest weapon of its kind.
In 2007, Russia announced that it developed a thermobaric bomb known as FOAB – the father of all bombs – which is said to be four times larger than MOAB.
It is a show of strength
Although US gun tests are generally not televised, the 2003 MOAB public test was a direct sign of strength for Saddam Hussein and Iraqi forces. “The aim is for the pressure to be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in March 2003.
The MOAB was selected for its ability to generate “overpressure” – a particularly effective method of directing underground tunnel systems.
“As ISIS-K losses have increased, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” General John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement shortly after the strike. “This is the right ammunition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” he said, referring to the ISIS branch in Afghanistan.