GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb

GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb

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The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB Pronounced Moe-ABB) (colloquially known as the Mother of All Bombs) is a large-yield conventional bomb
Bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

 developed for the United States military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. At the time of development, it was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 ever designed. The bomb was designed to be delivered by a C-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

, primarily the MC-130E Combat Talon I or MC-130H Combat Talon II variants.

Since then, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 has tested its "Father of All Bombs", which is claimed to be four times more powerful than the MOAB.

Development


The MOAB is an Air Force Research Laboratory
Air Force Research Laboratory
The Air Force Research Laboratory is a scientific research organization operated by the United States Air Force Materiel Command dedicated to leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable aerospace warfighting technologies; planning and executing the Air Force science and...

 technology project that began in fiscal year 2002, as a descendant of the BLU-82
BLU-82
The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, known under program "Commando Vault" and nicknamed "daisy cutter" in Vietnam and in Afghanistan for its ability to flatten a forest into a helicopter landing zone, is a 15,000 pound conventional bomb, delivered from either a C-130 or an MC-130 transport aircraft....

 "Daisy cutter". It underwent a successful field test
Live fire exercise
A live fire exercise or LFX is any exercise in which a realistic scenario for the use of specific equipment is simulated. In the popular lexicon this is applied primarily to tests of weapons or weapon systems that are associated with the various branches of a nation's armed forces, although the...

 at Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 on March 11, 2003 and another on November 11, 2003.

Description


The designation "GBU" stands for Guided Bomb Unit. (Other types of bombs are designated as "BLU", for Bomb Live Unit, "BDU" for Bomb Dummy Unit, etc.) The "Guided" part of the designation indicates that it has a guidance capability to achieve significant accuracy at the desired point of impact.

The MOAB is 30 feet, 1¾ inches (9.17 m) long, has a diameter of 40½ inches (102.9 cm) and weighs 22,600 lb (10.3 tons), of which 18,700 lb (8.5 tons) is high explosive. Its blast radius
Blast radius
A blast radius is the distance from the source that will be affected when an explosion occurs. A blast radius is often associated with, but not limited to, bombs, mines, explosive projectiles , and other weapons with an explosive charge....

 is 450 feet (137 m, 150 yd), though the massive shock wave
Shock wave
A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries energy and can propagate through a medium or in some cases in the absence of a material medium, through a field such as the electromagnetic field...

 created by the air burst
Air burst
An air burst is the detonation of an explosive device such as an anti-personnel artillery shell or a nuclear weapon in the air instead of on contact with the ground or target or a delayed armor piercing explosion....

 is said to be able to destroy an area as large as nine city block
City block
A city block, urban block or simply block is a central element of urban planning and urban design. A city block is the smallest area that is surrounded by streets. City blocks are the space for buildings within the street pattern of a city, they form the basic unit of a city's urban fabric...

s. Due to its large size and weight, it was designed to be dropped via parachute extraction out of the back of a C-130 cargo aircraft.

The MOAB is a precision guided munition which uses global positioning
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 technology to impact at the target location. Detonation of the warhead is triggered by fuses on 4 foot long extenders on the nose of the weapon. It is the first U.S. weapon to use Russian-style lattice control surfaces (referred to as "Belotserkovskiy grid fin
Grid fin
Grid fins are a type of flight control surface used on missiles and bombs in place of more conventional control surfaces, such as planar fins...

s"), like those used on the R-400 Oka
R-400 Oka
The OTR-23 Oka was a mobile theatre ballistic missile deployed by the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War to replace the obsolete SS-1C 'Scud B'. It carried the GRAU index 9K714 and was assigned the NATO reporting name SS-23 Spider...

 and Vympel R-77
Vympel R-77
The Russian R-77 Missile is a medium range, air-to-air, active radar-guided missile system. It is the Russian counterpart to the American AIM-120 AMRAAM missile, thus gaining a nickname: Amraamski....

.

The MOAB uses 18,700 pounds of H6
Composition H6
Composition H6 is a castable military explosive compound composed of the following percentages by weight:* 45% RDX* 30% TNT* 20% powdered aluminium* 5% paraffin wax as a phlegmatizing agent....

 as its explosive filler. At 1.35 times the power of TNT, H6 is one of the more powerful explosives used by the U.S. military. H6 is an explosive combination of RDX (Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine), TNT, and aluminum. H6 is typically employed by the military for general purpose bombs and is an explosive composition which is produced in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. H6 is a widely used main blast charge filling for underwater weapons such as mines, depth charges, torpedoes and mine disposal charges. HBX compositions (HBX-1, HBX-3, and H6) are aluminized (powdered aluminium) explosives mainly used as a replacement for the now obsolete explosive known as Torpex
Torpex
Torpex is a secondary explosive 50% more powerful than TNT by mass. Torpex is composed of 42% RDX, 40% TNT and 18% powdered aluminium. It was used in the Second World War from late 1942. The name is short for Torpedo Explosive', having been originally developed for use in torpedoes...

. HBX-3 and H6 have lower sensitivity to impact and much higher explosion test temperatures than torpex. The warhead is designated the BLU-120/B.

Although its effect has often been compared to that of a nuclear weapon, it is only about one thousandth the power of Little Boy
Little Boy
"Little Boy" was the codename of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the United States Army Air Forces. It was the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon...

, the atomic bomb used against Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

. The MOAB's blast is equivalent to around 11 tons of TNT, whereas the Hiroshima blast was equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT; modern nuclear missiles are far more powerful than the atomic bomb used against Hiroshima. However, the MOAB bomb's yield is comparable to the smallest of nuclear devices, such as the M-388 Davy Crockett.
Indicator MОАВ FОАВ
Mass: 8,200 kg 7,100 kg
TNT equivalent: 11 tons / 22,000 Ib ~44 tons / 88,000 Ib
Blast radius: 150 m (500 ft) 300 m (1,000 ft)
Guidance: INS/GPS Unknown (presumably GLONASS
GLONASS
GLONASS , acronym for Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema or Global Navigation Satellite System, is a radio-based satellite navigation system operated for the Russian government by the Russian Space Forces...

*)

Operational history


It was first tested with the explosive tritonal
Tritonal
Tritonal is a mixture of 80% TNT and 20% aluminium powder, used in several types of ordnance such as air-dropped bombs. The aluminium improves the total heat output and hence impulse of the TNT - the length of time during which the blast wave is positive...

 on 11 March 2003, on Range 70 located at Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

 in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. It was again tested on November 21, 2003. Aside from two test articles, the only known production is of 15 units at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant’s mission is to produce and renovate conventional ammunition and ammunition related components. The plant stores war reserve and training ammunition. McAlester performs manufacturing, industrial engineering and production product assurance. The plant also receives,...

 in 2003 in support of the Iraq War. A single MOAB was moved to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 area in April 2003 but it was never used. Since none of those are known to have been used as of early 2007, the U.S. inventory of GBU-43/B presumably remains at approximately 15.

Evaluations



The basic operational concept bears some similarity to the BLU-82
BLU-82
The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, known under program "Commando Vault" and nicknamed "daisy cutter" in Vietnam and in Afghanistan for its ability to flatten a forest into a helicopter landing zone, is a 15,000 pound conventional bomb, delivered from either a C-130 or an MC-130 transport aircraft....

 Daisy Cutter, which was used to clear heavily wooded areas in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 to clear mines and later as a psychological weapon against the Iraqi military. After witnessing the psychological impact of the BLU-82 on enemy soldiers, and not having any BLU-82 weapons remaining, the MOAB was developed partly to continue the role of intimidating the Iraqi soldiers. Pentagon officials had suggested their intention to use MOAB as an anti-personnel weapon, as part of the "shock and awe" strategy integral to the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

.

The MOAB is not a penetrator weapon
Penetration (weapons)
Strictly speaking penetration occurs when a projectile enters a target without passing through it and perforation occurs when the projectile completely passes through the target, but the word penetration is commonly used to refer to either....

 and is primarily intended for soft to medium surface targets covering extended areas and targets in a contained environment such as a deep canyon or within a cave system. However, multiple strikes with lower yield ordnance may be more effective and can be delivered by fighter/bombers such as the F-16 with greater stand-off capability than the C-130 and C-17
C-17 Globemaster III
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. Developed for the United States Air Force from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas, the C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout...

. High altitude carpet-bombing with much smaller 2,000 or 1,000 pound bombs delivered via B-52s
B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, who have continued to provide maintainence and upgrades to the aircraft in service...

 is also highly effective at covering large areas.

See also

  • Grand Slam bomb
    Grand Slam bomb
    The Grand Slam was a 22,000 lb earthquake bomb used by RAF Bomber Command against strategic targets during the Second World War.Known officially as the Bomb, Medium Capacity, 22,000 lb, it was a scaled up version of the Tallboy bomb and closer to the original size that the bombs' inventor,...

  • Massive Ordnance Penetrator
    Massive Ordnance Penetrator
    The Massive Ordnance Penetrator GBU-57A/B is a project by the U.S. Air Force to develop a massive, precision-guided, "bunker buster" bomb...

  • T-12 Cloudmaker
  • BLU-82
    BLU-82
    The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, known under program "Commando Vault" and nicknamed "daisy cutter" in Vietnam and in Afghanistan for its ability to flatten a forest into a helicopter landing zone, is a 15,000 pound conventional bomb, delivered from either a C-130 or an MC-130 transport aircraft....

  • JDAM
  • Soviet atomic bomb project
    Soviet atomic bomb project
    The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

  • Tsar Bomba
    Tsar Bomba
    Tsar Bomba is the nickname for the AN602 hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. It was also referred to as Kuz'kina Mat , in this usage meaning "something that has not been seen before"....


External links