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What We Know About the GBU-43/B, 'Mother of All Bombs'

April 15th 2017

Land Mine

The “Mother of All Bombs,” the GBU-43/B Massive Air Blast, is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal, and it was used for the first time in combat on April 13 in Afghanistan against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

If you’ve never heard of this bomb, you’re likely not alone. To help you get educated about it, here are some facts to know:

According to globalsecurity.org, it’s the largest-ever satellite-guided, air-delivered weapon in history, made to replace the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and early on in Afghanistan.

The MOAB was developed in only nine weeks in 2003 to be available for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it was created to put pressure on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to stop fighting against the coalition. The smart bomb was never used during that war.

The MOAB was loaded into a C-130 Hercules, where it sat in a cradle on an airdrop platform until the whole platform was pulled off the plane at a high altitude by a drogue parachute, which is used to slow it down. Once in the air, the weapon was quickly released from the platform to keep up its forward momentum. The grid fins then opened to stabilize it and guide it to its target.

According to globalsecurity.org, on Sept. 11, 2007, the Russian military announced it had tested the “Father of all Bombs,” the world’s most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered munition.

The Russians said it’s four times more powerful than the MOAB, even though it technically has fewer explosives in it (7.8 tons compared to the MOAB’s 8 tons). The FOAB is said to use more efficient explosives, yielding the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT with a blast radius of 300 meters – double that of the MOAB.

MOAB2

The MOAB’s Specs:

  • It has a relatively thin aluminum casing designed to burst on a surface, not penetrate it. That creates a large blast with lesser fragmentation.
  • It’s a “smart bomb” with GPS-guided munition. It’s got stabilizing fins and inertial gyro for pitch and roll control.
  • It weighs 21,000 pounds!
  • The MOAB delivers an 18,700-pound warhead known as the BLU-120/B, which is made of H6 – a mixture of cyclotrimethylene trinitramine, TNT and aluminum.
  • It’s BIG – 30 feet long with a diameter of 40.5 inches, to be exact.

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