The “Mother of All Bombs,” the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal, and it was used for the first time in combat on April 13 in Afghanistan against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
If you’ve never heard of this bomb, you’re likely not alone.
According to global security.org, it’s the largest-ever satellite-guided, air-delivered weapon in history, made to replace the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and early on in Afghanistan.
The MOAB was developed in only nine weeks in 2003 to be available for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it was created to put pressure on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to stop fighting against the coalition. The smart bomb was never used during that war.
The MOAB is loaded into a C-130 Hercules, where it sits in a cradle on an airdrop platform until the whole platform is pulled off the plane at a high altitude by a drogue parachute, which is used to slow it down. Once in the air, the weapon is quickly released from the platform to keep up its forward momentum. The grid fins then opened to stabilize it and guide it to its target.