MOAB : America’s Most Powerful Non Nuclear Bomb

This undated photo provided by Eglin Air Force Base shows a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, the U.S. military's largest non-nuclear bomb, which contains 11 tons of explosives. The Pentagon said U.S. forces in Afghanistan dropped a GBU-43B on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on Thursday, April 13, 2017, in what a Pentagon spokesman said was the first-ever combat use of the bomb. (Eglin Air Force Base via AP)

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “Mother Of All Bombs” is currently the largest conventional bomb as opposed to a nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal. The MOAB was dropped on ISIS targets in Afghanistan on Thursday, 13th April 2017, killing 90 ISIS militants.

Facts about MOAB

  • It is a large yield thermobaric bomb, that is, it generates both heat and pressure.
  • The bomb is 30 feet long, 40.5 inches in diameter.
  • MOAB has 18,000 pounds of H6 explosives and weighs 21,600 pounds. Consequently, its explosion is equivalent to 10 tons of TNT and the blast radius is a mile wide.
  • To drop this weapon specially modified C-130 transport planes are used.
  • It is very expensive; the cost-per-unit of the weapon is $16 million with a total program cost of $314 million.

 Reason for selection

moab

  • The reason for selection of this weapon was on the basis of its ability to generate “over pressure”. It is a particularly effective method of targeting underground tunnel systems.
  • It is an air-burst weapon, which creates pressure planned to subside tunnels or bunkers and eliminate any enemy personnel caught in the blast.
  • Furthermore, it is a satellite guided bomb which explodes mere feet above the ground.

 The scientific idea behind the air burst weapon

The idea behind the air-bust bomb was to amplify its destructive range. A bomb that penetrates the ground and then bursts. It tends to send all of its energy either down into the ground or straight up into the air. An air burst weapon propels a great amount of its energy out to the side.

MOAB Versus FOAB:

In the year 2007, Russia announced that it has developed a thermobaric bomb known as FOAB – Father Of All The Bombs. FOAB is four times more powerful than MOAB.

According to the Russian deputy chief, it is smaller than the MOAB but is much lethal due to the temperature at the center of the blast which is twice as high. He says that MOAB’s potential is comparable to the nuclear weapons. But contrasting the nuclear weaponry known for its radioactive fallout, use of this weapon does not damage or contaminate the surroundings beyond the blast radius. The blast radius of the FOAB is 300 meters, almost double that of the MOAB, and the temperature produced is two times as high.

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