US forces in Afghanistan dropped the military's biggest non-nuclear bomb on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan, reports the AP. Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump says it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, formally called the GBU-43/Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. Based on the acronym, it has been nicknamed the "Mother of All Bombs," with the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT. Stump says it was dropped on a cave complex used by ISIS fighters in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan.
- The bomb weighs 21,000 pounds and was first detonated in a 2003 test, reports Fox News. When dropped, it detonates before reaching the ground, resulting in a huge blast radius.
- See a History Channel video about the bomb and the 2003 test here.
- It is not the nation's biggest conventional weapon, notes the Guardian. That would be the Massive Ordnance Penetrator GBU-57, a "bunker buster."
- Back in 2007, the Guardian reported that Russia had detonated the "Father of All Bombs," said to be four times more powerful than the US weapon. The test took place at a military base. It's a "thermobaric bomb" with a yield of 44 tons of TNT, adds Business Insider.
- Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, gave the green light for use of the bomb in Afghanistan, reports CNN. White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not answer questions about whether President Trump personally approved the mission. "I'm not going to get into the details right now," he said, deferring to the Pentagon.
- NPR hits some of the logistics: "At more than 30 feet long, it's too big to fit inside the weapons bay of a standard Air Force bomber. Instead, troops load it into the cargo compartment of a specialized transport, the MC-130 Combat Talon, which releases it over the target by opening its ramp in the same way it might for paratroopers or air-dropped supplies."
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