- Spc. Evan D. Marcy/US Army
The US has deployed the largest nonnuclear bomb in its inventory on an ISIS target in a remote part of far northeast Afghanistan, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, whose acronym has inspired the nickname “Mother of All Bombs” or “MOAB,” weighs over 21,000 pounds.
It was developed during the Iraq War. It had not been used in combat until now.
It was dropped on an ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, camp in the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which borders northwest Pakistan, US officials with direct knowledge of the mission told CNN.
An online simulator called HYDESim, which stands for High-Yield Detonation Effects Simulator, “maps overpressure radii generated by a ground-level detonation.”
“These radii are an indicator of structural damage to buildings,” the simulator says.
Through the simulator, you can see how the MOAB would affect New York City, Los Angeles, London, and other big cities, based on the HYDESim’s estimate of its explosive yield. (The exact yield is classified, but it’s approximately .011KT)
Based on the simulator’s calculations, the effects of the bomb would be widely felt, causing “most glass surfaces, such as windows” to shatter, “some with enough force to cause injury” as much as a mile from the blast site, according to the simulator. The actual blast would likely destroy one or two city blocks.
By contrast, the US’s most powerful nuclear bomb – the B83, with a 1.2 megaton maximum yield – would have a blast radius of nearly 20 miles.
The MOAB strike on Thursday “was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and US forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities,” US Central Command said in a statement.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers, and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in the statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
Watch footage of the MOAB being tested:
Christopher Woody contributed reporting.