A GBU-43/B is the largest and most powerful non-nuclear satellite guided bomb in the arsenal of the United States and was developed at the start of the Iraq war in 2003.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) weighs 21,000-pounds and is a GPS-guided munition.
The US military on April 13 claimed to have deployed the weapon for the first time in combat against caves used by the militant Islamic State in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
The 30 feet long MOAB is an improved replacement for the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter bomb which was widely used in previous conflicts, most notably the Vietnam War.
The weapon produces a tremendous explosion which is effective against hard-target entrances, soft-to-medium surface targets, clearing tunnels and caves and anti-personnel purposes.
Due to the size of the explosion, it can be deployed for clearing Landing Zones (LZ) for air assault forces and clearing mine and beach obstacles.
The massive blast radius is also suitable for performing psychological operations on enemy forces.
The bomb, owing to its massive size and weight, is dropped from a C-130 cargo aircraft, specifically the MC-130 Talon operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command.
For deployment, the GBU-43/B is pulled out of the aircraft’s open cargo ramp with the aid of a drogue parachute while in flight.
After being pulled out of the aircraft, the weapon is quickly released to maintain maximum forward momentum. Grid fins attached to the bomb then open up and guide the weapon to target.
The bomb was designed and fielded in just nine months, just in time for the Iraq War of 2003.
The Russian military in 2007 also claimed to have developed a similar weapon. Russia said the bomb was four times as powerful when compared to the US MOAB.