Better known as the “mother of all bombs,” the weapon is officially known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB).
Here’s what we know about the MOAB.
The weapon’s explosive yield is a fraction of a nuclear weapon, but it still packs a devastating punch.
It’s never been used in combat
Before Thursday, the MOAB’s impact had only been felt in controlled tests.
It was used to target tunnels
The target was ISIS tunnels and caves deep in a remote, mountainous area of Afghanistan.
“In this area, mountains and caves, you want something that can get a blast effect into the caves and tunnels,” CNN military analyst Rick Francona said on “Inside Politics” on Thursday.
“And this is the weapon to do that, the overpressure from the weapon will send shock waves through the tunnel systems and that will kill almost everybody in there within a certain range.”
That is why you use this weapon … it will set off a huge blast, it will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area,” he said.
It’s accurate and powerful
It’s a show of strength
The MOAB was selected for its ability to generate “overpressure” — a particularly effective method of targeting underground tunnel systems.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” said Gen John Nicholson, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, in a statement shortly after the strike. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” he said, referring to the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.
The MOAB had secretly been stationed in the country for “some time,” according to CNN’s Barbara Starr.