The USAF’s largest non-nuclear bomb has been unleashed on Islamic State infrastructure, US military officials have reported.
Today’s GBU-43 MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or ‘Mother Of All Bombs’) drop was this massive weapon’s combat debut. The target it engaged was an underground complex – thought to be used by ISIS warfighters - located in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, according to the Pentagon.
‘The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and US Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximising the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities’, it confirmed.
Dispatch of the MOAB occurred at 1932hrs, local time, states the United States Forces-Afghanistan’s news release. This action came hot on the heels of last week’s US Special Forces troop death, which also took place in Nangarhar province. This, according to at least one official, was probably no coincidence.
The MOAB’s drop platform was a Lockheed MC-130: the only aircraft type from which the GBU-43 can be released. The MC-130 series comprises a range of Special Operations-tasked C-130 Hercules transport aircraft models that includes the MC-130H Combat Talon II, the MC-130P Combat Shadow and the MC-130J Commando II.
Every effort was made to ensure no collateral damage occurred, US States Forces-Afghanistan confirmed. Furthermore, there’ll be ongoing offensive action against Afghan-based IS units until they’re wiped out, it stressed.
The GBU-43 MOAB was developed and tested during the early-mid 2000s and introduced in 2008. Initially conceived to replace the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, it evolved into a ‘smart bomb’ equipped with GPS, hence its GBU (Guided Bomb Unit) designation. Combining the BLU-120/B bomb with the KMU-593/B guidance kit, it weighs some 21,000 pounds, is 30 feet long and is 40.5 inches in diameter.
Commenting on the bomb-drop, General John Nicolson – who commands Afghan-deployed US forces – said that the terror organisation’s "losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defence.” MOAB, he explained, was “…the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive."
GBU-43 MOAB images copyright USAF – courtesy Wikimedia Commons