An image from aerial footage of a GBU-43/B bomb striking an ISIS-K cave and tunnel systems in the Achin district of the Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan, April 13, 2017.

The “Mother of All Bombs,” the GBU-43/B Massive Air Blast, is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal, and it was used for the first time in combat on April 13 in Afghanistan against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

If you’ve never heard of this bomb, you’re likely not alone. To help you get educated about it, here are some facts to know:

When and Why Was It Created?

According to global security.org, it’s the largest-ever satellite-guided, air-delivered weapon in history, made to replace the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and early on in Afghanistan.

The MOAB was developed in only nine weeks in 2003 to be available for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it was created to put pressure on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to stop fighting against the coalition. The smart bomb was never used during that war.

Al Weimorts, the creator of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (pictured left), and Joseph Fellenz, lead model maker, look over the prototype before it was painted and tested. Courtesy photo

The MOAB’s Specs:

It has a relatively thin aluminum casing designed to burst on a surface, not penetrate it. That creates a large blast with lesser fragmentation.
It’s a “smart bomb” with GPS-guided munition. It’s got stabilizing fins and inertial gyro for pitch and roll control.
It weighs 21,000 pounds!
The MOAB delivers an 18,700-pound warhead known as the BLU-120/B, which is made of H6 – a mixture of cyclotrimethylene trinitramine, TNT and aluminum.
It’s BIG – 30 feet long with a diameter of 40.5 inches, to be exact.

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