The United States’ most powerful non-nuclear bomb made its combat debut Thursday when an Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130 dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, also known as the “Mother of All Bombs,” on an ISIS stronghold in Afghanistan. At 7:32 p.m. local time, the bomb was dropped on an ISIS tunnel complex in the Achin district of Nangarhar Province. “The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and US Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K [Khorasan] fighters and facilities,” US Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement. ISIS in Afghanistan is using bunkers, tunnels, and improvised explosive devices to build its defense. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, said in the statement.
The GBU-43 was developed in just nine weeks to be ready for the Iraq war in 2003, but it has never before been used in combat. The GPS-guided, 30-foot-long bomb weighs a total of 21,000 pounds, of which 18,000 is attributed to its high explosive BLU-120/B warhead. The 30,000-pound GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator “bunker buster” bomb actually weighs more than the MOAB, but it’s warhead is a third of the size at 5,300 pounds.