News the U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on a complex of Islamic State tunnels in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday left many people wondering what exactly the weapon nicknamed the "mother of all bombs" can do. Photos of the mother of all bombs being tested show a powerful large-yield conventional bomb capable of achieving major psychological impact.
"At 7:32 p.m. local time today, US 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," a statement released Thursday by U.S. Central Command said. ISIS-K is an abbreviation of the term ISIS-Khorasan, which refers to the branch of the Islamic State operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The GBU-43/B is a Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon whose acronym inspired its "mother of all bombs" nickname. It is known to be the largest non-nuclear bomb the U.S. military has in its arsenal, weighing in at roughly 21,000 pounds. According to a Pentagon spokesman, the bomb contains 11 tons of explosives. Due to its size, the GBU-43/B must be dropped from an MC-130, the Air Force's principal tactical cargo and personnel transport aircraft.
Developed and tested in 2003, the GBU-43/B is designed to impact large areas for what the military information website Deagel calls" a terrifying psychological impact." According to the BBC, the GBU-43 is said to have a blast radius of one mile with an aluminum casing reportedly designed to help maximize the blast radius.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the GBU-43/B as "a large, powerful, and accurately delivered weapon" while speaking to reporters during Thursday's daily press briefing. "The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously, and in order to defeat the group, we must deny then operational space, which we did," Spicer said.
Although the GBU-43/B is the U.S. military's largest conventional bomb (meaning non-nuclear), it pales in comparison to the United States' arsenal of nuclear weapons. According to NBC News, the bomb is roughly half the size of the Davy Crockett artillery shell, the smallest nuclear weapon ever developed by the United States.
In a statement to reporters Thursday, President Donald Trump called the strike in Afghanistan "another very, very successful mission." Although it was developed in the early 2000s for use in Iraq, Thursday was the first time the GBU-43/B had ever actually been used in combat.