Thursday, April 13, 2017

First use of a GBU-43/B MOAB in Combat

The GBU-43/B MOAB, Massive Ordinance Airblast Bomb was deployed for the first time in combat on April 13th, 2017. The ordinance was deployed against ISIS Stronghold in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. The GBU-43 is a 21,600-pound air burst precision bomb delivering 18,700 pounds of H-6 explosive and is deployed out of an MC 130 H Tallon. H-6 explosive is an explosive compound that when compared to a TNT, H-6 according to the Amry field training manual FM 3-34.214, has 1.33 times more effective. This equivalency would place an 18,700 pounds of H-6 equivalent to an explosion of 24,871 pounds of TNT. All of this explosive creates a bomb with a blast radius of 1,000 yards, kill radius of the shockwave of 1.7 miles, at 2 miles it causes deafness, at 5 miles it shakes the ground and breaks windows, and can be seen up to 30 miles away, according to In comparison, a 2,000 MK 48 only has a shrapnel kill radius of 360 meters. This makes the GBU-43/B the bomb with the largest conventional warhead in the United States arsenal. Test of the weapon was conducted in 2003 and 20 were put into the United States arsenal for 16 million dollars a piece.  For a large scale enemy compound with tunnels, buildings, logistical assets, IED`s in addition with no civilian population in the vicinity, it would make the perfect target for this weapon system, in addition to having a huge psychological impact on the enemy. The blast if detonated near the tunnel entrances will push blast pressure throughout all of the tunnel systems killing any occupants insides by either overpressurization or making an environment devoid of oxygen. In addition to collapsing the tunnels, destroying entrances, detonating any IED`s, and destroying any enemy assets. The use of the GBU-43/B was a cost-effective deployment of the ordinance to take out enemy personnel, logistical assets, and denial of ground in this situation when comparing other options and the amount of ordinance that would have to be used to have the same effect range of destruction due to poor topography, and the sheer mass of devastation needed to be effective. The use of this weapon to knock out a cave system that has been used for many years as a logistical supply and housing system for enemy combatants to rearm and conduct operations out of has been taken away in a single hit.  In addition, the deployment of this weapon for the first time is used a huge psychological factor on enemy combatants and potential adversaries not only in the area but in other combat zones as well, displaying the fearsome might of American ordinance. Confirmation of enemy combatants and killed or injured and the amount of destruction has yet to be released.  The situation is still developing, but today marks the largest conventional bomb ever deployed in combat.

Video footage of a GBU-43/b MOAB test
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