The U.S. military for the first time in combat used a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb to strike an ISIS-Khorasan target in Afghanistan, the government announced on April 13. The 21,500-pound, precision-guided munition, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” was developed in 2003 at the time of the Iraq War but never used.
According to a statement issued by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, at 7:32 p.m. local time, a U.S. aircraft dropped the GBU-43/B on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, to minimize the threat to U.S. and Afghan forces conducting clearing operations in the area. The Pentagon identified the aircraft as a Special Operations MC-130 Combat Talon, according to media reports.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” stated Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan commander. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer made the following statement: “The GBU-43 is a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon. We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters use to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisors and Afghan forces in the area. The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did. The United States took all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the operation.”
In 2011, the U.S. Air Force disclosed that it was receiving deliveries from Boeing of a larger bomb, the 30,000-pound GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). Intended for carriage by the B-2 Spirit bomber, the precision-guided MOP was developed in the early 2000s as a bunker-penetrating weapon.