What Is MOAB, 'Mother of All Bombs,' and What Is It Capable Of

MOAB is thought to be 'the most fearsome explosive weapon' in the Pentagon's possession and can penetrate through 60 meters of enforced concrete

The 'Mother of All Bombs'
The 'Mother of All Bombs' U.S. Department of Defense

The "Mother of All Bombs," officially known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, is said to be the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in America's arsenal.

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The bomb, which was used for the first time in combat on Thursday in Afghanistan, can penetrate through 60 meters (200 feet) of enforced concrete and is therefore especially suitable for deployment in contained environments such as caves and bunkers. The U.S. military said that Thursday’s attack targeted an ISIS tunnel complex.

The MOAB was first tested days before the start of the Iraq war in March 2003. A month later, one of America's 15 behemoth bombs was moved to the Persian Gulf region, CNN reported in April 2003. A U.S. air force lieutenant has said that MOAB would be "great" for attacking Iran, the website globalresearch.ca wrote.

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Archive footage: Testing the MOAB

The Russian version of the MOAB, conveniently nicknamed the "Father of All Bombs" is a bomber-delivered thermobaric weapon. Moscow has claimed the FOAB is four times as powerful as America's MOAB. A top Russian military official described the FOAB as having "no match in the world," the Guardian reported.

According to globalresearch.ca, the MOAB, which costs $16 million per bomb, is thought to be "the most fearsome explosive weapon" in the Pentagon's possession. The website heavy.com says the U.S. military has spent $314 million on MOAB's production so far.

The MOAB is launched by a parachute which pulls the bomb on a pallet out of the back of a cargo plane, the website howstuffworks.com explained. The pallet and the bomb then separate so the MOAB can be directed to its target by a satellite guidance system. The latter feature makes it one of the world's largest "smart bombs."

The bomb is built by the Alabama-based aeronautics company Dynetics and weighs 9,525 kilograms (21,000 pounds), measures 9,15 meters (30 feet) and contains around 8,165 kilograms (18,000 pounds) of tritonal, a mixture of the explosive material TNT and aluminum powder.

Made to increase its range of destruction upon explosion, the bomb's force can clear out trees in a 152-meter-diameter (500 feet). The bomb is delivered by the massive MC-130 aircraft, which is operated by Air Force Special Operations Command.