A Lockheed MC-130 from the US Air Force Special Operations Command dropped the largest conventional bomb available in the US arsenal on ISIS-held position in Afghanistan.
The aircraft dropped a GBU-43B Massive Ordnance Air Burst (MOAB), commonly nicknamed ‘Mother of all Bombs’, on a cave complex beneath the Achin district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, late Thursday night. Military intelligence suspected that ISIS operatives used the fortified caves for concealment and to move around the province unhindered.
The 30-foot long, 22-thousand pound heavy weapon is dropped from a specially adapted MC-130 aircraft fitted out with a deployment sled.
Once the aft cargo ramp opens, a parachute deploys and drags the sled out until the weapon becomes airborne. MOAB uses internal gyros for stabilization and preset GPS coordinates to guide it to its target.
The weapon detonates in an air burst close to the ground, delivering almost 20 thousand pounds of H6 explosive material. Such massive release of energy causes a highly concentrated barometric shockwave (referred to as ‘overpressure’) that travels across the air and then through solid ground. MOAB is specifically designed to destroy hard, underground targets such as bunkers or reinforced cave systems.
According to US sources, 36 ISIS fighters died in the blast, which could be felt miles away. The gigantic explosion shattered glass and cracked walls in nearby villages.
This is the first combat drop of a MOAB weapon. The US still has another 14 units in its arsenal.
The attack comes shortly after two US Navy Destroyers -USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Ross (DDG-71)- launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Sharyat Airfield in Syria.
The MOAB strike is widely seen as a decisive show of force by the US military. President Trump referred to the bombing as ‘another successful job.’