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MOAB and MOP—the USAF’s two options for big non nukes

16 April 2017

Recently, the USAF dropped the MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast or GBU-43) against insurgents in Afghanistan. The weapon works, as its name implies, by detonating a huge explosive charge just above ground. The blast creates a shock wave called overpressure (a 10 psi overpressure will destroy all but concrete buildings). Once related by parachute extraction on a pallet from its MC-130E Combat Talon steering vanes steer the device to its target. Obviously, air supremacy is required for use of the MOAB. It is the largest non-nuclear bomb used in hostile action to date.

MOAB at the USAF Armament Museum—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

MOAB, the green bomb, at the USAF Armament Museum—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

The two sensors on the MOAB’s nose give the MOAB the capability to explode above ground—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Winglets, steering vanes and GPS allow for the MOAB’s accuracy—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

A closer view the the MOAB’s steering vanes which gimbal in use—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

That is for above ground and in the presence of air supremacy. The USAF also has a massive weapon for below ground use and when the fight for air supremacy is on—such as the onset of hostilities when elimination of command and communication bunkers is desired. Hence the MOP (Massive Ordinance Penetrator or GBU-57) which outweighs the MOAB by 8400 pounds, is also non-nuclear and can be delivered by a B-2 stealth bomber. Like the MOAB it also has winglets, steering vanes and GPS for accuracy. Unlike the MOAB, the MOP is designed to penetrate as far as 200 feet into the ground prior to detonation.

MOP Drop—a MOP GBU-57 is dropped in a nonexplosive testing of the weapon from a B-52 though the MOP would likely be delivered by B-2 in wartime—USAF image

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Hunt permalink
    17 April 2017 02:06

    Your info about the MOP’s weight more than twice outweighing the MOAB’s is incorrect. It doesn’t even come close to outweighing it.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      17 April 2017 07:30

      Well thanks for the announcement as well as your judgement. For not providing what you think is the correct information–thanks a lot. No doubt you are an authority on the subject! I don’t understand why some commenters use this option to not actually help but only to announce their apparent edge or superiority as you did. I would appreciate your help, as always, however–this blog takes a good amount of time when I think about it: travel, editing, Photoshop, researching. So, please, help not announcement.

      My original source was incorrect and the MOAB weighs about 10,000 pounds more than I had thought. The text has been amended.

      My return comments stand. Plainly speaking, though I appreciate your comment, your approach throws a block my way instead of throwing a block to move the ball down he field.

  2. Tahoe Valley Lines permalink
    10 August 2017 02:06

    Cleaning out the ring of artillery threatening the DMZ and Seoul is one main element facing US military planners working on PDRK pre-emption scenarios. MOAB mosaic in and along northern flank of the Seoul perimeter would be in the hundreds. Do we have those kinds of numbers of these bombs, several hundred? Aircraft in numbers to bring it into a few hour span?

    In another approach, I comment on something related to Bopal, India, where a massive carbon dioxide release was very lethal Presumably NPDK troops dug into artillery revetments on the line facing Seoul would have gas masks, but I was curious about the use of dry ice as a anti-personnel weapon against dug-in or bunker troops. In some quarters CO2 is regarded as a hazardous chemical; how does the Geneva convention classify CO2. or do they even include CO2 on their lists of anti-personnel WMD?

    This subject came up way back when we were first dealing with Taliban in the tunnels of Afghanistan…. Probably a no-go above the 38 Parallel because it would be used as excuse for enemy to use the more deadly VX and other chemicals they stock. The North Korean challenge is not only pre-emption of missile and artillery, enmasse troops charging south (“Human Wave”) requires use of MOAB class anti-personnel ordnance.

    Direct conflict is a horrible thing to contemplate in North Korea. Worse, it is not all that difficult to bring nuclear weapons into ports in container ships. More than one West Coast location in “Time-On-Target ” methodology. We are overdue for naval blockade around North Korean ports. False flag attack is another possibility more likely as Iran and North Korea both are able to create such an event. Old Bible savvy people look for Israel to take care of Iran?

    You may choose not to print this and I understand… Maybe share with appropriate persons.


  1. Massive Ordinance Air Blast – MOAB | As My World Turns

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