April 10, 2003

Air Force sends MOAB to Iraq

By Lance M. Bacon
Times staff writer

The “Mother Of All Bombs” has made its way to Iraq. Pentagon officials have confirmed that at least one MOAB, which technically stands for “Massive Ordnance Air Burst,” has arrived at a forward operating base inside Iraq.

The official could not say whether more MOABs would be sent, or how or when the bomb might be used.

The MOAB is the U.S. military’s largest non-nuclear weapon. It weighs in at 21,000 pounds, 18,000 of which are explosives. It measures 30 feet in length and 3 ˝ feet in diameter.

The Air Force Research Lab started developing MOAB technology in 2002, and the bomb was first dropped at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on March 11.

The MOAB is similar to but 40 percent heavier than the BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter.” Unlike the Daisy Cutter, which is a free-fall bomb, the MOAB is satellite-guided; a tail kit “steers” the bomb to within 14 yards of its target.

Both bombs can be used to clear anything from landing zones to minefields to enemy troop formations.

The Daisy Cutter was created during the Vietnam War and was first used in 1970. Its 12,600 pounds of explosives cleared dense jungle within a 260 feet radius, and caused serious injuries to people 600 feet away. Eleven Daisy Cutters were dropped on Iraqis in Gulf War. The initial intent was to clear vast minefields that slowed U.S. troops, but battlefield commanders soon realized that the massive explosion caused Iraqi soldiers to surrender in droves.

The BLU-82 most recently was dropped in November 2001 on a series of Afghanistan caves where al-Qaida leaders were suspected of hiding.

Said Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, “... They make a heck of a bang when they go off, and the intent is to kill people.”

The MOAB, like the Daisy Cutter, is dropped by MC-130 Combat Talons, a troops carrier which mainly provides infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces.




 
   

           
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