US Just Dropped The 'Mother Of All Bombs' In Afghanistan. Here's All You Need To Know

The bomb was dropped on a network of caves and tunnels believed to be housing Islamic State militants.

Cover image via Reuters via Daily Mail

The US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan on Thursday

Image via Daily Mail

According to Reuters, the device dubbed as "the mother of all bombs" (MOAB), was dropped an hour after sundown on a network of caves and tunnels housing Islamic State militants, in the Achin district of Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistani border.

A Pentagon spokesman, Adam Stump, said that this is the first time the BGU-43 bomb has been used in a combat and it was so massive to the point that it had to be dropped from the rear of a cargo plane.

US officials say that there are around 600 to 800 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan, with most of them concentrated around the Nangarhar area.

Here's everything you need to know about the MOAB:


Image via Reuters

The USD16 million bomb contains 11 tons of explosives and is formally known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb.

The 21,600 pounds (9,797 kg) bomb which was developed in 2002 and first tested in March 2003, is a GPS-guided munition. MOAB leaves no lasting radiation effect.

It was reported that the massive explosive is regarded as highly effective against clusters of targets on or just underneath the ground.

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

General John W. Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan said in a statement as reported by CNBC, "As ISIS-K's losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense. This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K".

"What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire," Bill Roggio of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies think tank told the Air Force Times.

The massive munition was developed during the Iraq war. CNN reported that during the bomb's final stages of testing, the US military said that the MOAB was conceived as a "weapon employed for psychological operations"

The MOAB during the 2003 U.S. Air Force test.

Image via HO/REUTERS

According to US officials who spoke to CNN then, said the bomb is an air blast-type warhead that explodes before hitting the ground so that it projects a massive blast to all sides.

"Military officials said they hoped the MOAB would create such a huge blast that it would rattle Iraqi troops and pressure them into surrendering or not even fighting," read the CNN report.

The bomb was intended to be used against large formations of troops and hardened above-ground bunkers due to its massive power of destruction.

US President Donald Trump has called the bombing "another very, very successful mission" and said that the US military is the "greatest" in the world

US President Donald J. Trump

Image via Twitter/Donald J. Trump

"We're very, very proud of our military. It was another successful event," said Trump during a press event at the White House.

However, Trump made no mention on whether he had personally authorised the bombing.

"Everybody knows exactly what happens. So, what I do is I authorise our military. We have given them total authorisation and that's what they're doing," added Trump, as reported by CNN.

So far, the Pentagon has not released any statements on the extent of the damage as the US military is currently conducting an assessment on the aftermath of the bombing

"US forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. US Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan," read a statement from US Forces Afghanistan, as reported by CNN.

New York Daily News reported Ismail Shinwari, the governor of Achin district, saying that the US bombing hit a remote mountainous area and that there have been no reports of civilian injuries so far.

"Of 12,000 bombs U.S. dropped on Afghanistan in past 5 yrs, MOAB the first to be honored with its own press release (posted w/in hours)," read a tweet by Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In a report by The Guardian earlier this year, Zenko, said that in 2016 alone, the US had dropped 26,171 bombs. "This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day," he explained.

For comparison - while MOAB is heavier (9,500kg) than the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima in 1945, its explosion is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT. The atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima had an explosive yield of 15,000 of TNT.

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