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MOAB: All you need to know about the massive bomb US dropped in Afghanistan

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On Thursday, ISIS fighters in Afghanistan got a rather nasty surprise

Bhaswar Kumar  |  New Delhi  April 14, 2017 Last Updated at 09:20 IST

The US military dropped its largest non-nuclear explosive device on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on Thursday. So, what exactly is the big deal, so to say, given that the US has been hitting targets in Afghanistan with a variety of ordinances for over a decade and a half now? The answer might lie in what the “Mother Of All Bombs” (MOAB) actually is, beyond the obvious fact suggested by its nickname — that it is a very large bomb.


But first, here is what transpired on Thursday: The US military on Thursday dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed as the “Mother Of All Bombs”, on a tunnel complex of ISIS-Khorasan, a regional affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, in the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nanagarh province, close to the Pakistani border. This was the first time a was used in combat though it was developed in 2003.  

Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump confirmed it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb.


A is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.


The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command.


The strike was designed to minimise the risk to Afghan and US Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximising the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.


As General John Nicholson, the head of US and forces in Afghanistan, explained: the bomb was used against caves and bunkers housing fighters of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, also known as ISIS-K. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Nicholson said in a statement.


Why is it called the MOAB


The MOAB, which carries a lesser known military designation – GBU-43/B, came into being due to the US’ war on terror following the September 11 attacks, especially from the lessons US forces learned during the air campaign in Afghanistan. 


The massive 26,000-pound (9,797-kg) device was developed by the Munitions Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in 2003. In fact, it was developed within just nine short months. The idea was to create a guided munition which could hit as hard as the US’ unguided BLU-82/B bombs, which weighed in at 6,800 Kg. 


US forces had been using the legacy munition in Afghanistan to target the cave complexes and hideouts used by the Taliban. 


Compared to the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), which is one of the most ubiquitous munitions used by US forces in the region, the requires nothing less than C-130 Hercules aircraft to carry it and deploy it in battle. A JDAM, at the upper range of its spectrum, consists of a 900 Kg bomb. 


Compare the two videos below, the first shows a JDAM strike on a target and the second one is of the Keep in mind the difference in the distances at which the two videos have been shot.   


Video source: Youtube.com (FUNKER530 – Veteran Community & Combat Footage)

By weight, it falls just shy of the Wold War 2 era Grand Slam device, or “earthquake bomb”. At 10,000 Kg, the Grand Slam was the most powerful non-nuclear device used in the global conflict. 

 

MOAB: All you need to know about the massive bomb US dropped in Afghanistan

On Thursday, ISIS fighters in Afghanistan got a rather nasty surprise

On Thursday, ISIS fighters in Afghanistan got a rather nasty surprise

The US military dropped its largest non-nuclear explosive device on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on Thursday. So, what exactly is the big deal, so to say, given that the US has been hitting targets in Afghanistan with a variety of ordinances for over a decade and a half now? The answer might lie in what the “Mother Of All Bombs” (MOAB) actually is, beyond the obvious fact suggested by its nickname — that it is a very large bomb.


But first, here is what transpired on Thursday: The US military on Thursday dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed as the “Mother Of All Bombs”, on a tunnel complex of ISIS-Khorasan, a regional affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, in the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nanagarh province, close to the Pakistani border. This was the first time a was used in combat though it was developed in 2003.  

Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump confirmed it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb.


A is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.


The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command.


The strike was designed to minimise the risk to Afghan and US Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximising the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.


As General John Nicholson, the head of US and forces in Afghanistan, explained: the bomb was used against caves and bunkers housing fighters of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, also known as ISIS-K. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Nicholson said in a statement.


Why is it called the MOAB


The MOAB, which carries a lesser known military designation – GBU-43/B, came into being due to the US’ war on terror following the September 11 attacks, especially from the lessons US forces learned during the air campaign in Afghanistan. 


The massive 26,000-pound (9,797-kg) device was developed by the Munitions Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in 2003. In fact, it was developed within just nine short months. The idea was to create a guided munition which could hit as hard as the US’ unguided BLU-82/B bombs, which weighed in at 6,800 Kg. 


US forces had been using the legacy munition in Afghanistan to target the cave complexes and hideouts used by the Taliban. 


Compared to the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), which is one of the most ubiquitous munitions used by US forces in the region, the requires nothing less than C-130 Hercules aircraft to carry it and deploy it in battle. A JDAM, at the upper range of its spectrum, consists of a 900 Kg bomb. 


Compare the two videos below, the first shows a JDAM strike on a target and the second one is of the Keep in mind the difference in the distances at which the two videos have been shot.   


Video source: Youtube.com (FUNKER530 – Veteran Community & Combat Footage)

By weight, it falls just shy of the Wold War 2 era Grand Slam device, or “earthquake bomb”. At 10,000 Kg, the Grand Slam was the most powerful non-nuclear device used in the global conflict. 

 

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Bhaswar Kumar

Business Standard

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