April 14, 2017: On Friday, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) became the largest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped on a battlefield after the US unexpectedly unleashed one on a network of Islamic State targets in Afghanistan.
Observers were almost instantly stunned as 2003 file footage surfaced of the nearly-10,000 kg weapon — commonly referred to as the Mother Of All Bombs — demonstrating its destructive capabilities amid the seemingly randomly timed deployment of a previously dormant device.
Here are five facts to know about the MOAB:
#1 The MOAB is a large-yield conventional (non-nuclear) GPS-guided munition weapon first designed in 2002 by Air Force Research Laboratory for the US military. The MOAB is not only staggeringly powerful for a conventional bomb, but so physically heavy it cannot be deployed using conventional bombers.
#2 Unlike most conventional bombs, the MOAB is designed to take out field-fortified targets — like caves, canyons and tunnels — that are not easily reachable. This quality is what allows the MOAB’s intensive blast wave to travel through underground, oxygen-filled networks, like underground tunnels and caves.
#3 The MOAB’s massive size, in addition to its powerful thermobaric qualities that cause devastating surface destruction are said by analysts to be two of the main reasons it has not previously been used on the battlefield. The bomb was reportedly transported to Iraq in the early years of the conflict, but never used.
#4 For all its destructive capabilities, the MOAB is still only the second largest conventional bomb in the US arsenal, coming second only to the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) which has yet never been used in combat.Meanwhile, Russia currently has in its arsenal what it refers to as the Father Of All Bombs (FOAB)
#5 Experts say the bombing may open up a “can of worms” considering Russia has the FOAB.
TNT News with inputs from ABC News