The most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. Military’s arsenal has been dropped in Afghanistan. It’s known as the Mother of All Bombs or MOAB. The official name of the weapon is the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb. CNN reports that it was dropped in the Achin district of Nangarhar, close to the Pakistan boarder at around 7 p.m. local time on April 13. It’s the first time the weapon has been used in the battlefield. CNN, quoting Afghan officials, says that 36 ISIS fighters have been killed. The network added that intelligence officials estimated that there could have been as many as 800 ISIS fighters in the area.
The Air Force Times reports that the specific target was an ISIS tunnel complex in the region. The top U.S. commander in the region, Gen. John W. Nicholson, said in a statement, “As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense. This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.” While “every precaution” was taken to avoid civilian casualties.
When asked about the bombing, Trump said, “Everybody knows exactly what happened so, and what I do is I authorize my military.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. It Was Built at the Beginning of the Iraq War in 2003
The bomb was first tested by the U.S. Military in March 2003, just before the start of the Iraq war. The Department of Defense said it was dropped from a C130 Hercules aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. It weighed 21,500 pounds. The statement concludes with the line, “It is the largest non-nuclear weapon in existence.”
CNN reported in April 2003 that one bomb, of the 15 that were created, was moved into the Persian Gulf area.
2. Russia Claims it Has Detonated the ‘Father of All Bombs’ – 4 Times the Strength of MOAB
The Guardian reported in September 2007 that the Russian military had detonated the “Father of All Bombs.” The Kremlin described the bomb as being “four times” more powerful than the MOAB. The Guardian quoted an army official in Russia, Alexander Rukshin, as saying, “You will now see it in action – the bomb which has no match in the world is being tested at a military site.” The Russian bomb was dropped by a Tupolev 160.
3. USAF Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle Described the Bomb as a ‘Great Weapon to Use on Iran’
Global Research Canada quoted U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle as calling the MOAB “great” for a possible strike on Iran.
Jonathan Karl of ABC News wrote in October 2009 that MOAB is “ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran.” Just prior to Karl writing that article, he noted that “McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract to provide ‘Massive Penetrator Ordnance Integration’ on B-2 aircraft.” Karl also describes the bomb as “not the kind of weapon that would be particularly useful in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
4. Each Bomb Costs $16 Million to Build
According to military information website Deagel, MOAB costs around $16 million per unit. So far the U.S. military has spent $314 million on the production of the explosive. The bomb weighs 20,000 pounds and is equipped with GPS tracking systems.
5. The Strike Comes Days After Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar Was Killed in the Region
On April 10, the Defense Department announced that Special Forces Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar had been killed in the Achin district. He was 37 years old. Staff Sgt. De Alencar was based out of Eglin Air Force Base, where MOAB was first tested.
The Achin district is 100 percent Pashtun tribal. During the Soviet/Afghan war of the 1980s, it was a stronghold of the U.S. backed Mujaheddin. There is a population of around 95,000. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in 2000 that the area was the greatest opium growing district in eastern Afghanistan. Other crops grown in the area include wheat and tobacco.