HOLT, Fla., April 14, 2017—Airmen assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command were the first to drop America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb in combat April 13.
A massive ordnance air blast bomb, or MOAB and designated a GBU-43/B, was dropped from an AFSOC MC-130 Combat Talon, like the kind stationed at Hurlburt Field, onto a Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan tunnel complex in Afghanistan.
The air strike was “part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017,” stated a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.
Designed at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base in 2002-2003, the weapon was only tested a couple of times at Eglin’s test range during the second Gulf war with Iraq. It had never been used in combat until Thursday.
Part of the mystique behind the massive bomb was as an intimidation tactic aimed at Saddam Hussein during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, which is one of the reasons it’s also known as “the mother of all bombs” as a play on Hussein’s threat to wage the “mother of all wars” against the United States and its coalition.
It wasn’t used during the Gulf war due to a lack of resistance by Iraqi forces.
The bomb is made out of a thin aluminum skin designed to maximize the blast effect. It is 30 feet long, weighs 21,500 pounds and carries 18,000 pounds of explosives.
Once released, it guides itself to the target and detonates above ground for maximum impact.
The bomb was designed to be delivered by Air Force Special Operations MC-130 cargo aircraft.
A MOAB is on display at the Air Force Armament Museum’s outdoor air park at Eglin AFB.