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GBU-43/B "Mother Of All Bombs"
MOAB - Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb

The "Mother of All Bombs" - the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in America's arsenal. The bomb was used for the first time in combat on Thursday 13 April 2017 in Afghanistan. This bomb, which has a relatively thin casing, is not a penetrator, but a "demolition bomb" designed for a surface burst.

The top US commander in Afghanistan said his decision to use one of the US military's largest nonnuclear bombs was done in communication with officials in Washington. Trump has told reporters that the bombing was “another very, very successful mission.” He did not answer directly when asked if he had authorized the use of the bomb. “Everyone knows exactly what happened. What I do is authorize my military. We have given them total authorization,” Trump said.

General John Nicholson said April 14 at a news conference in Kabul that the attack was purely "tactical." He told reporters "This was the right weapon for the right target". Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said 36 Islamic State (IS) fighters were killed in the blast which hit an IS tunnel and command center on April 13. He said no civilians were harmed.

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani told Radio Free Afghanistan the decision to deploy the massive bomb in the area was made after repeated air strikes by the Afghan Air Force and the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission's air force had failed to destroy the IS hideout. The tunnel network included the IS regional command center and weapons depots dug underground at depths that reached 300 meters in some areas.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the use of the bomb on Afghan soil. "This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons," he said.

The real motivations for the bomb drop are not yet completely clear. But what at first glance seemed to be another dip into US President Donald Trump's mysterious bag of tricks could be following military and political logic. This latest military operation came on the heels of the US cruise missile strike on Syria - a mission conducted while President Trump was eating cake with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Some experts said Trump's unusual display of military might was intended to set himself apart from his predecessors in that he's capable of making strong decisions. It was also seen as a stern warning against North Korea.

Sergey Demidenko is an associate professor at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Demidenko said that this event should not be regarded as something particularly conspicuous in the “Afghan-American theater of political events... This event should be deliberated more widely – as a political challenge, which we are now witnessing in the context of US relations with other countries. In connection with the specifics of the position of the entire administration of Donald Trump on the domestic political situation, the new American president is making extraordinary efforts to erode the image of a politically controlled politician ... Most likely, in the near future we will see such similar actions of the US but it is necessary to clearly understand that these attacks are opportunistic and promotional. It is however, unlikely that they will have far-reaching global and effective consequences”. The GBU-43/B is large, powerful and accurately delivered. high explosive. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb [MOAB] weapon is a 21,000 lbs total weight GPS-guided munition with fins and inertial gyro for pitch and roll control. It is probable that this munition was initially nick-named the "Mother Of All Bombs" with the retronymic expansion of MOAB following later.

On 11 September 2007 the Russian military announced that it had tested what it called the "Father of All Bombs". Described as the world's most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered munition, the Russian military claimed it was four times more powerful than the American "Mother Of All Bombs." While the Russian bomb was reported to contain 7.8 tons of "thermobaric" explosive, compared to the more than 8 tons of explosives in the American bomb, the Russian bomb was said to use more highly efficient explosive, with a yield equivalent to 44 tons of TNT. The bomb was reported to have a blast radius of 300 meters, double that of the American bomb, while the temperature at the epicenter was also reported to be twice as high.

In 1991 Saddam Hussein conquered Kuwait and postured with threats to deliver the "Mother of All Battles". Mother of all Battles [Umm Al-Ma'arik / Um El-Ma'arek] -- the Arabic "mother of" is a figure of speech for "major" or "best". The original "Mother of All Battles" was the Battle of Qadisiya [Battle of al-Qadisiyya] in 637 CE, in which Islamic Arabs defeated the Persians. Saddam Hussein's "Mother of All Battles" turned into, among other things, the "Mother of All Retreats", the "Mother of All Blowouts", "the mother of all Marine operations", 650-slide "mother of all briefings", and so forth.

MOAB is a guided bomb which delivers the 18,700 lb BLU-120/B warhead bomb with KMU-593/B GPS/INS. The MOAB is the largest-ever satellite-guided, air-delivered weapon in history [not the largest ever, but the largest satellite guided]. The 21,600-pound MOAB is an improved replacement for the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter. It is 30 feet long with a diameter of 40.5 inches. The warhead is a blast-type warhead. It was developed in only nine weeks to be available for the Iraq campaign, but it was not used in combat.

The 21,700-pound [9,500 kilogram] bomb contains 18,700 pounds of H6, an explosive that is a mixture of RDX (Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine), TNT, and aluminum. H6 is used by the military for general purpose bombs. H6 is an Australian produced explosive composition. Composition H6 is a widely used main charge filling for underwater blast weapons such as mines, depth charges, torpedoes and mine disposal charges. HBX compositions (HBX-1, HBX-3, and H6) are aluminized (powdered aluminum) explosives used primarily as a replacement for the obsolete explosive, torpex. They are employed as bursting charges in mines, depth bombs, depth charges, and torpedoes. HBX-3 and H-6 have lower sensitivity to impact and much higher explosion test temperatures than torpex. The MOAB weapon produces a very large explosive blast, with lesser fragmentation effects due to a thin-walled aluminum casing.

Contrary to some published claims, it most certainly is not an Ethylene-Oxide Fuel-Air Explosive (FAE). Some initial reports had stated that this replacement for the BLU-82 bomb uses more of the slurry of ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum used in the BLU-82. Other reports indicated that the MOAB might use tritonal explosive as opposed to the gelled slurry explosive of the BLU-82. Contrary to some reports, it is not capable of deep ground penetration.

Like the BLU-82, the MOAB rests in a cradle on an airdrop platform inside a C-130 aircraft. Due to the size of the ordnance, the item is extracted from either an MC-130 Talon II or "Slick" C-130 Hercules by way of a parachute. A drogue parachute extracts the weapon, cradle and platform-and the weapon is quickly released to maintain maximum forward momentum. The grid fins then open and begin guiding the weapon to its target.

The MOAB weapon is based upon the same principle as the BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter", except that it is larger and has a guidance system. The weapon is expected to produce a tremendous explosion that would be effective against hard-target entrances, soft-to-medium surface targets, and for anti-personnel purposes. Because of the size of the explosion, it is also effective at LZ clearance and mine and beach obstacle clearance. Injury or death to persons will be primarily caused by blast or fragmentation. It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use. The massive weapon provides a capability to perform psychological operations, attack large area targets, or hold at-risk threats hidden within tunnels or caves.

The weapon is intended to have a high altitude release, allowing for greater stand-off range for the delivery vehicle. Following deployment from the aircraft via drogue parachute, the MOAB weapon is guided approximately 3 nautical miles through a GPS system (with inertial gyros for pitch and roll control), JDAM actuators, and is stabilized by series of fixed wings and grid fins. The weapon, which uses the aircraft's GPS prior to launch, takes several seconds to reconnect to the GPS signal after it has been deployed, which is normal for GPS weapons.

The US Air Force developed the satellite-guided Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bombs (MOAB) as a successor to the the 15,000-lb. "Daisy Cutters" used in Vietnam and Afghanistan. The Air Force is said to call MOABs (pronounced MOE-ab) the Mother Of All Bombs. As with the earlier Daisy Cutter, these huge bombs are dropped out of the rear of the C-130 cargo plane. Unlike the Daisy Cutter, the MOAB falls to the ground without the use of a retarding parachute. As a result, the aircraft releasing the bomb can fly at higher altitudes, thus making it safer for US pilots.

MOAB Chronology

In early 2002, the AF Munitions Directorate began to investigate the possibility of upgrading the large BLU-82 weapon with a guidance and control capability. Such an upgrade would allow the delivery aircraft to fly higher for better survivability and safety from the weapon's blast. It would also give the weapon greater range and accuracy, opening the door to additional target sets. After several design iterations gave the weapon a more aerodynamic shape, the current configuration of the MOAB was born. Work on the program began in 2002 and was set for completion in 2003.

Within nine months, the MOAB program went from development contract award to the completion of three highly successful flight tests. During the flight tests, the MOAB detonated upon contact with the ground. The program culminated in the successful demonstration of a suite of technologies supporting large weapons.

Testing began at Eglin as part of an Air Force Research Lab Technology Demonstration Project. With support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Natick Army Soldier Center, Naval Coastal Systems Station- Panama City, Air Transportation Test Loading Agency, Detachment 1 of the 46th Test Wing at Hurlburt Field, and Dynetics, Inc., directorate engineers rapidly and successfully designed, fabricated, integrated, and tested the huge MOAB weapon.

On 11 March 2003 he Air Force tested its Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon at the Eglin Air Force Base Air Armament Center's western test range, dropped from a C-130.

Eglin Air Force Base's Air Armament Center conducted the second live test of the largest conventional bomb in the US inventory at approximately 2:30 p.m. EST 21 November 2003. Designated the GBU-43/B, the 21,700-pound bomb was launched from an MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft flown by a crew assigned to Eglin's 46th Test Wing. One objective was to collect more data and provide it to the user to assist in targeting. Also, the Air Force wanted to certify MOAB on the Combat Talon I aircraft as previous launches had been made from the MC-130 Combat Talon II.

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