by Itunuoluwa Adebo
President Trump has described the US dropping the military’s biggest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan as “another successful job.”
Popularly known as the “mother of all bombs,” the weapon is officially known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB). According to CNN, it was dropped Thursday on a system of tunnels and caves used by ISIS in Nangarhar province, northeastern Afghanistan.
Here are 5 things we know about this bomb;
The bomb is 30 feet long, weighs 21,600 pounds and is packed with 18,000 pounds of explosives. It’s also around 40% more powerful than its predecessor, the Vietnam-era Daisy Cutter. The weapon’s explosive yield is a fraction of a nuclear weapon, but it still packs a devastating punch.
It’s a show of strength
While US weapons tests are generally not televised, the very public testing of the MOAB in 2003 was a direct show of strength to Saddam Hussein and Iraqi forces. “The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates,” said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield in March 2003. The MOAB was selected for its ability to generate “overpressure” — a particularly effective method of targeting underground tunnel systems.
It was used to target tunnels
The target was ISIS tunnels and caves deep in a remote, mountainous area of Afghanistan.
CNN military analyst Rick Francona on Thursday said on “Inside Politics” “In this area, mountains and caves, you want something that can get a blast effect into the caves and tunnels,”
“And this is the weapon to do that, the overpressure from the weapon will send shock waves through the tunnel systems and that will kill almost everybody in there within a certain range.”
It has never been used in combat
Prior to Thursday, the MOAB’s impact had only been felt in controlled tests.
The bomb was developed as an Air Force Research Laboratory technology project in 2002 for use in Iraq and was first tested at Eglin Air Force base in Florida in 2003.
It’s accurate and powerful
Despite the huge power of the MOAB, it is a smart bomb with wings and grid fins for guidance, and usually explodes mere feet from the ground. The MOAB is a themobaric bomb, meaning it generates both heat and pressure — and it’s not the largest weapon of its kind.