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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

3 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.


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

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