The Pentagon released video of the first-ever use of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon released the following description of the video:
"A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb strikes an ISIS-K cave and tunnel systems in the Achin district of the Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan at 7:32 p.m. local time April 13, 2017. The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities. ISIS-K, also known as the Khorasan group, is based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and is composed primarily of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban."
The Afghan government says the strike killed 36 ISIS fighters.
“This was the right weapon against the right target,” Army General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said. He ordered the first combat use of the bomb so Afghan troops and their American advisers wouldn’t have to go in on the ground to clear out the caves.
Nicholson said the U.S. conducted “persistent surveillance over the area before during and after the operation” and that there had been no evidence of civilians hit in the strike. Afghan officials also said there were no civilians casualties in the bombing, which was coordinated with them.
Pentagon officials told CBS News the strike had been in the works for months and that the bomb itself was moved into Afghanistan during the Obama administration. Authority to use it had been delegated to Nicholson, but he did notify Washington in advance, CBS News reported.
The GBU-43 is a GPS-guided bomb which is so big it has to be dropped by a cargo plane. In this case, an MC-130 aircraft used a parachute to drag the weapon over its rear cargo ramp. The bomb's guidance package then directed it to the target.
The McAlester Army Ammunition Plant won't confirm or deny the bomb was made there, but it has a model of one on the front lawn of its headquarters and it's been reported for years that GBU-43s were built there in 2003.
The bomb is the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. It's 30 feet long, weighs 21,000 pounds. Its official name is Massive Ordnance Air Blast, because it's designed to create a powerful pressure wave. Its unofficial nickname is Mother Of All Bombs.