On April 13, 2017, American forces in Afghanistan drop one of the largest non-nuclear weapons ever used by the U.S. military. The “Mother of All Bombs” hits an Islamic State tunnel complex with power equal to 11 tons of explosives. More than 90 Islamic State militants died in the bombing.
The strike was the first time the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast was used in combat by the U.S. military. The weapon targeted a complex where the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group was operating near the Pakistani border. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said ISIS fighters used the caves and tunnels to launch attacks against U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces.
The MOAB creates a blast radius stretching a mile in each direction. Weighing in at 22,000 pounds, the bomb must be deployed from the rear of a cargo plane with help from a parachute; no standard U.S. warplane is large enough to carry it.
The Pentagon commissioned a review of the weapon’s compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict in 2003 and found that “although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target. It's expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use.”
READ MORE: A Timeline of the U.S.-Led War on Terror