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GlobalSecurity.org In the News

The New York Post March 12, 2003


By Niles Lathem

WASHINGTON - Call it operation "Desert Stun."

The U.S. military yesterday exploded a newly developed 21,500-pound monster weapon nicknamed the "mother of all bombs" - and let Saddam Hussein know he will face its devastation in any war on Iraq.

The terrifying bomb, officially called the Massive Ordnance Air Blast or MOAB, is the largest non-nuclear weapon in history and creates a fear-inspiring mushroom cloud after it is detonated.

It's been under development for years as a replacement for the smaller 15,000-pound "Daisy Cutter" that was used in Afghanistan.

The Air Force dropped the latest behemoth bomb from a C-131 Samaritan cargo plane yesterday afternoon at a test range at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida, after warning residents in Pensacola - 60 miles away - to expect a loud noise.

"It looked like a white mushroom cloud, almost like cotton or smoke you'd see from a fire, kind of billowy," said base spokeswoman Karen Roganov, who watched from a rooftop 30 miles away.

Normally, military tests of new weapons are carried out in secrecy. But with war on the horizon, the Pentagon publicized the explosion of the monster weapon to shake, rattle and roll the Iraqi military.

"The goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight . . . and there is an enormous incentive for Saddam Hussein to leave and spare the world a conflict," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters.

The monster MOAB will be used in a conflict with Iraq, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Obviously anything we have in the arsenal that's in almost any stage of development could be used," he said.

Air Force officials and military experts say the orange-painted MOAB has wings and grid fins and contains 18,000 pounds of explosives, making it 40 percent more powerful than the Daisy Cutter.

The MOAB is dropped from the rear door of a cargo plane, initially falling with a parachute to slow down its decent and allow the plane to get away safely.

Then a satellite-guided global positioning device takes over and directs the bomb to its target.

Air Force spokeswoman Gloria Cales said the bomb ignites before it reaches the ground, spreading flammable mist over the target and producing a massive explosion.

The bomb was originally designed to be used on large concentrations of troops or on underground complexes.

But the MOAB's devastating explosive power - which likely would make Iraqi troops think they are under a nuclear attack - also is in line with the Pentagon's overall strategic concept of trying to "shock and awe" the Iraqi regime into surrender.



* Dropped from rear of cargo plane at about 10,000 feet.

* Falls with a parachute so the plane can get away, then bomb directed to its target by a global positioning system device.

* Has a device similar to Doppler radar that tells it when to explode, usually igniting several hundred feet in the air to create maximum effect.

* Explosives inside are called Fuel Air Explosives, which spread a mist of flammable gases that then ignite creating a powerful explosion.


* Up to 1,000 yards: Obliterates everything.

* Up to 1 mile: Knocks people, tents, light buildings, cars and jeeps over within 1-mile radius.

* Up to 1.7 miles: shock wave kills people, causes severe damage to buildings, equipment, blows trucks, tanks off road.

* Up to 2 miles: causes deafness.

* Up to 5 miles: shakes ground, breaks windows.

* Up to 30 miles: 10,000 foot high mushroom cloud visible.

[Source The Lexington Institute and Globalsecurity.org]

GRAPHIC: THE MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast)

Copyright 2003, N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.