Mother of all Bombs Thrown in Afghanistan

IAS Prelims 2023

United States of America on 13 April 2017¬†dropped “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear device, on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

The 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GBU-43 bomb, which has 11 tons of explosives, was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan.

The GBU-43, also known as the “mother of all bombs,” is a GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003. It is regarded as particularly effective against clusters of targets on or just underneath the ground. Other types of bombs can be more effective against deeper, hardened tunnels.

It was the first time the United States has used this size of conventional bomb in a conflict.

The security situation remains precarious in Afghanistan, with a number of militant groups trying to claim territory more than 15 years after the U.S. invasion which toppled the Taliban government.

Afghan government controls less than 60 percent of the country.

Foreign policy experts said that it appeared the use of a specialised weapon like the GBU-43 had more to do with the type of target — tunnels — than the United States sending any message to other countries by using such a powerful weapon.

MOAB was first tested with the explosive tritonal on 11 March 2003, on Range 70 located at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. It was tested again on 21 November 2003.

Since 2003, 15 MOABs have been manufactured at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.