US Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft navigates the mountainous
Alaskan terrain July 20, 2016.US
Air Force Photo
The US has deployed the largest non-nuclear bomb in its inventory
on an ISIS target in a remote part of far northeast Afghanistan,
according to the Pentagon.
Four US officials with direct knowledge of the mission said the
US had dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, aka
the “Mother of All Bombs” or “MOAB,” over the Achin district of
Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which borders northwest
The MOAB, which was developed during the Iraq war, is the US’s
largest non-nuclear bomb and had not been used in
combat until now.
It weighs 21,000 pounds and was dropped from a C-130 aircraft a
little after 7 p.m. local time on Thursday.
“This is a weapon that would be used against a large footprint on
the ground,” CNN analyst Barbara Starr said. The target in question was reportedly
an ISIS complex with a camp and tunnels and where personnel were
The bomb explodes in the air above its target and creates “over
pressure,” which crushes tunnels and everything in
The area is very close to the Pakistan border, Starr said, and
“is still a border that is not really controlled.”
“And they have seen ISIS develop on the Afghanistan side of the
this border,” she added.
Massive Ordnance Air Blast, aka the Mother of All Bombs or MOAB —
weapon prepared for testing at the Eglin Air Force Armament
Center on March 11, 2003.DoD
“At 7:32 pm local time today, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan conducted
a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar
province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat
ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017,” US Central Command said in a
“The strike used a GBU-43 bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft,” the
statement said. “The strike was designed to minimize the risk to
Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area
while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers
and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John W. Nicholson,
commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in the statement,
referring to the ISIS branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan,
ISIS-Khorasan. “This is the right munition to
reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive
Nangarhar province borders Pakistan is the border area is hard to
The Central Command statement said US forces “took every
precaution to avoid civilian casualties”; however, the size and
power of the MOAB means damage to the surrounding area can be
“Dropping a 21,000 lb bomb is not exactly a battle,”
journalist Jeremy Scahill said on Twitter about the bombing. “It’s a
mass killing machine.”
The MOAB’s deployment comes just a few days after a US Special
Forces operator was killed in the same region of the country
during operations against ISIS.
“The soldier was mortally wounded late Saturday during an
operation in Nangarhar Province” in eastern Afghanistan, US Navy
Captain Bill Salvin said on Twitter on April 8.
The US-led war in Afghanistan will enter its 16th
year in 2017.
The US has deployed heavy ordnance in the country before.
In November 2001, during the initial invasion of Afghanistan, the
US dropped “daisy cutter” bombs — which weighed 15,000
pounds and were first used to clear helicopter landing zones in
the jungles of Vietnam — on Taliban positions.
You can see video footage of the MOAB below: