back to article US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags

For the first time, the US has used its largest non-nuclear explosive, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (also known as the Mother Of All Bombs) in Afghanistan. The MOAB is a 10.5-ton bomb containing 18,700 pounds (8,482 kilograms) of high explosive. It was used against a cave and tunnel complex in use by the …

  1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    It should be noted that the thing costs $314 Million USD to build, plus expenses related to schlepping the thing from the factory to Afghanistan, then the cost of actually dropping it (Fuel for the aircraft dropping, plus the escorts). All that, just to kill, at most, 800 people (That is the maximum estimate of the number of Daesh fighters in the entire country of Afghanistan).

    You could pay every member of Daesh in Afghanistan a half million dollars to stop fighting and it'd still be cheaper than dropping the damn thing...

    1. From the States

      The entire project was $314 million to develop with a unit cost of $16 million.

      They built 20 of those things within that project.

      See http://finance.yahoo.com/news/heres-much-mother-bombs-costs-173900074.html or http://twitchy.com/sd-3133/2017/04/13/thinkprogress-hack-gets-his-moab-math-wrong-and-gets-his-butt-handed-to-him/.

      1. John H Woods

        Re: The entire project was $314 million to develop with a unit cost of $16 million.

        This isn't nearly the big maths fail. I've spent all morning fighting a frustrating meme where someone has used HYDESim to simulate the MOAB blast over New York without realizing that the yield box is in kt and they should have entered 0.011 instead of 11.

        I've even seen people suggest a "21,000 tonne bomb" has been dropped, confusing pounds and tonnes. Who seriously thinks something weighing as much as a passenger ferry can be dropped out of a plane?

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: The entire project was $314 million to develop with a unit cost of $16 million.

          I've even seen people suggest a "21,000 tonne bomb" has been dropped,

          It wouldn't even need an explosive charge; if you manage to drop it from, say, 3000m you'll get a rather impressive dent anyway.

      2. retired_in_london

        Re: The entire project was $314 million to develop with a unit cost of $16 million.

        Understanding how the US military works, just keeping it in wh, inspected, ready to go, probably costs an arm and a leg. "carrying costs" mum.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Actually that figure includes the R&D to design it, which is already spent whether we use it or not. A steel casing, explosive to fill it, and the fins & guidance package isn't that expensive.

      I believe it was originally designed for "if we find Saddam and/or bin Laden, and they're underground and we can't get 'em out..."

      Fuel for dropping it is not an issue. C-130s fly every day in and out of Afghanistan anyway. A C-130 flies carrying the Thunderbirds demo team around to airshows all over the US. As for expenses "schlepping it there" what's a 10 ton bomb cost in fuel on an aircraft carrier massing 93,284 tons?

      Bomb 'em again, I say.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        @Gene Cash

        Just picking nits, it's not a steel casing but actually a thin aluminum skin so as to not hinder the blast.

    3. Malignant_Narcissism

      Yes, because negotiating with ISIS has been *so* productive!

    4. Jim84

      Meanwhile the Taliban/ISIS recieve money every week from opium sales and donations from rich nutty individuals in the middle east who have to be bought off for political support by their autocratic rulers.

      Imagine if that $314 million had been spent on researching and building a demo molten salt reactor to produce ammonia to replace the petrol used in cars, or if the US had decided to legalise drugs and spend the $314 on education to ensure that not too many more people fell victim to drugs...

      1. Triggerfish

        Always wondered if we had started buying Afghan opium for medical use rather than buying it from some farm in the richer west whether it would have made a difference.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          @Triggerfish, American money is buying Afghan opium but it's the kids on the street (in more ways than one) who are paying. Apparently, 90% of heroin on the streets of the US is Afghan, the US stopped eradicating opium there in around 2009 as the population was becoming impoverished, the majority of farmers were depending on opium for their income so in a hearts and minds attempt to win them over they were allowed to continue growing it.

          1. Triggerfish

            So if you buy it for medical use, you get a double bonus really effectively hit the drug trade, and also open up trade routes with Afghans.

    5. Michael Thibault

      "You could pay every member of Daesh in Afghanistan a half million dollars to stop fighting and it'd still be cheaper than dropping the damn thing..."

      But... where's the "Kaboom"?

      1. John Riddoch
        Mushroom

        "where's the Kaboom?"

        "There was supposed to be an earth shattering Kaboom!"

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: "where's the Kaboom?"

          as I have seen in photos and movies of MOAB under test, it _CAN_ generate a nice mushroom cloud

          So yeah, as far as ISIS goes, near-NUKE 'em till they glow, then SHOOT THEM IN THE DARK!

          I'm sure many ISIS members will have nightmares guessing when the next one's coming. The rest will scatter like roaches when you flip the light switch on. Those will be the ones NOT willing to strap bombs to their OWN bodies to kill innocent civilians...

    6. JimC Silver badge

      > You could pay every member of Daesh

      The trouble with bribing the ideologically motivated not to fight is that they have a tendency not to stay bribed, in which case all you have achieved is to finance your enemies.

    7. Bandikoto

      Do you know how you can tell an honest politician?

      But will they stay paid off?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do you know how you can tell an honest politician?

        "But will they stay paid off?"

        I tell you again and again

        That once you have paid him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane (Kipling)

    8. joed

      At this pricetag one could surely fund a suicide squad that would take of all ISIS (while members' families get paid "life insurance" money).

  2. Florida1920
    Mushroom

    "What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire"

    Sounds like Trump at a campaign rally.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gather Dust?

    Look, we have the thing, it works, and it does an army job (break things, kill people). What more could you ask for. The $$$ have been spent, so why not use it. Probably cheaper than storing the beast.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Gather Dust?

        My understanding is that it can be used as an airburst to "suck all the oxygen out of the air", but can also penetrate as much as 100 feet deep into the ground to take out a big crater. I would guess it would have a lot of the force directed sideways assuming it was aimed correctly and penetrated within the tunnel network.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gather Dust?

          Some loggy noticed the 'Use By' dates and kicked it up the chain. Can't help thinking a fair chunk of the R&D budget went on safety. So things like ability to jetison, or not prematurely airburst. Or just getting it out the back of a C-130 safely. Pilot gets on the intercom to confirm weapons release, or could confirm a SNAFU by spotting the loadmaster's parachutes. I guess confirming it's gorn should be noticeable by the trim change.

        2. TDog

          Re: Gather Dust?

          I have real problems with the "Suck all the oxygen out of the air" statement. Not denying, it just don't understand it.

          If the bomb is going to use the oxygen in the air as an oxidising agent then it is constrained by simple geometry. Before it can detonate is has to mix its combustible agents (presumably mainly gaseous) with the air. Sort of half a sphere shape. which implies about an inverse cube law. Now I suppose it could fire off projectiles in a mainly horizontal direction that dispersed inflammable (suck this oxygen!) agents over a larger area, but this seems not similar to the design of the weapon as shown.

          So a single centralised "big bang" will not particularly "Suck the oxygen", but an "oxygen sucker" will not seem to fit the images shown. Thermobaric weapons are usually much smaller due to the inverse cube law earlier described.

          Can anyone enlighten me?

          1. Black Betty

            Re: Gather Dust?

            I suspect an ignorant conflation between this bunker buster and the Daisy Cutter fuel-air bomb.

            Or perhaps a squeamish writer decided a less than factual "suck all the air from your lungs" was an improvement over "lungs exploded inside your chest".

            Reading between the lines, it would appear that the M110 can be fused to explode on contact, generating a shockwave in air capable of rupturing unprotected lungs and destroying lightweight structures out to distance of a mile or so, along with a surface shockwave that would knock more substantial buildings off their foundations. Alternatively it can be fused for delayed detonation, to take out hardened/buried targets at a significantly reduced distance.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Gather Dust?

            I have real problems with the "Suck all the oxygen out of the air" statement.

            Whoever said it had a lisp?

          3. johnsmithdude
            Mushroom

            Re: Gather Dust?

            It uses a rather nifty (and quite unpleasant for those targeted) technique called thermobaric weaponry. (Even the word sounds cool.) Normal explosives have a fuel and an oxidizer. Thermobaric weapons are virtually all fuel. When you drop the bomb, a small explosive blows up the device, creating a cloud of fuel, and then the heated fuel hits oxygen and ignites. This causes a massive shockwave and, as previously stated, depletes all the oxygen in the local air, making it a very effective weapon against fortifications (Big Boom + Pressure Shockwave + Asphyxiation generally wipes out defenses and kills everyone inside).

      2. The Average Joe

        Re: Gather Dust?

        I agree, after dropping it they should have carpet bombed the area for 24 hours...

      3. Black Betty

        Re: Gather Dust?

        Tell that to Barnes Wallace and the 617 Squadron. This thing is designed to do a task that no (realistic) number of 1000 lb bombs can do. Go deep and take out (or at least cut access to) hardened facilities beyond the reach of conventional ordinance.

        The reason that 1000 lb was more or less established as the "ideal" size for a bomb, way back when they were still calling the aforementioned Barnes Wallace an idiot, is indeed the devastation per dollar expended you allude to. And that calculation was made based on the targets of the day. CITIES. Cities full of structures and infrastructures that can be knocked flat by an excessively stiff breeze.

        1000 lb bombs are designed to bomb PEOPLE and the things that PEOPLE need to survive. Last time I looked the updated rules of "civilised" warfare kinda forbade targeting civilians.

        Germany proved rather convincingly that railway line could be laid, and power lines strung faster than they could be bombed out of existence. It took specialised weapons like the Barrel Bomb, Tallboy and Grand Slam, and the critter under discussion here, to damage the truly important stuff buried under mountains of dirt and whacking great lumps of concrete.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Gather Dust?

          Barnes Wallace

          Barnes Wallis.

          1. Black Betty

            Re: Gather Dust?

            Yah, it's been about 20 years since I last read me some Dam Busters. I was reminded of the correct spelling too late to correct it.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Coat

              Barnes Wallace

              Another British inventor, with his dog Barnes Gromit

          2. Random Handle

            Re: Gather Dust?

            Sir Barnes Wallis to you...

            http://www.sirbarneswallis.com/ is highly recommended - necessary reading for a few I think given some of the comments.

      4. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Gather Dust?

        The MOAB is the stupidest thing ever built since a very large portion of its energy ends up just going straight up at the atmosphere,

        Go read up on the WWII Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs designed by Barnes Wallis, and look at some of the pictures of the damage done by those.

        You don't blow a hole in a 3.5m thick reinforced concrete U-boot pen or penetrate a hillside to have the explosion take out a railway tunnel for the rest of the war with 1000lb bombs. Trying to seriously damage a tunnel/cave complex that way is a similarly futile endeavour.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Gather Dust?

          The MOAB is the spiritual successor to British Cookies if WWII. These were cans of explosive that did damage by blast.

          The Massive Ordnance Penetrator is the successor to Grand Slam and Tallboy. Weapons designed to penetrate the ground, explode causing a underground hole into which the target falls.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Gather Dust?

            I suspect an ignorant conflation between this bunker buster and the Daisy Cutter fuel-air bomb.

            Or perhaps a squeamish writer decided a less than factual "suck all the air from your lungs" was an improvement over "lungs exploded inside your chest".

            Another possibility with the overpressure effects is it apparently uses aluminium powder explosives, puff them out with a smaller initial explosion for air dispersal and you have an explosion in a custard factory effect, scaled up because of the materials. I could imagine that combustion would remove a lot of oxygen.

        2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

          Re: Gather Dust?

          Theres one huge difference between the MOAB and bunker busters like Tallboy, Grand Slam or the GBU-28:

          - the MOAB has a thin alloy skin so it doesn't interfere with the blast wave. This means that it must be exploded above ground - drop it onto anything hard and it will splatter rather than penetrate.

          - Tallboy is the archetypical bunker buster, or penetrating bomb. It weighed 5,400kg, but only 2,400kg, or just over 50%, of that was Torpex explosive. Most of the rest was a thick high tensile steel case, strong enough to be dropped through the few metres of reinforced concrete forming the roof of a U-boat or E-boat pen. Its tail boom and fins were light alloy and were only there to make sure it arrived nose first and spun up to stop it tumbling. One is known to have penetrated 18m into a hill to explode in the railway tunnel underneath.

          Grand Slam was a bigger, 10,000 kg version of Tallboy

          The Americans have the GBU-28, a laser-guided, 2,268kg bunker buster

          THOSE are what you need to destroy caves and tunnels, not airblast bombs: I wonder why they didn't use one or two GBU-28s on the tunnel complex. Earthquakes and wrecked tunnels not spectacular enough for Proper Shock & Awe?.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Gather Dust?

            I wonder why they didn't use one or two GBU-28s on the tunnel complex. Earthquakes and wrecked tunnels not spectacular enough for Proper Shock & Awe?.

            I would think in a large complex structure like a cave system, where there are not hardened weapons installation but just occupied by people the MOAB might be better, basically with a thermobaric weapon you are recereating a BLEVI, so something like that dispersing it's material down the tunnels first would probably be more effect than hoping the blastwave can propogate around corners say, and then it igniting would probably be more effect in a kill everyone way due to expanded blastwave only needing to hit soft bodies after all, and removal of oxgen/ overpressure lung damge.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Gather Dust?

          "Trying to seriously damage a tunnel/cave complex that way is a similarly futile endeavour."

          No, you find where the tunnel is then fuel up your Mosquito and destroy it the British way :-)

          "One pilot flew down a cutting at a height of 100 feet and in a width space of only three Mosquito wing spans to throw his bomb into the tunnel mouth. The bomb travelled down the tunnel before exploding, belching out dirt and smoke from the opposite end. "

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: the British way

            Thankyou for that :) now I have this mental image of the Death Star attack with the Dambusters theme playing. Dare not research the Kiel attack further in case one of the crews was Lucas Cloudhopper & Arty Deetle.

        4. KBeee
          Mushroom

          Re: Gather Dust?

          The thing I found strangest about the Grand Slam bomb on Wiki was "Known officially as the Bomb, Medium Capacity, 22,000 lb"! If that was medium, I'd hate to see a big one!

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Gather Dust?

            If that was medium, I'd hate to see a big one!

            In naming things that come in a range of sizes, you leave room for expansion so that you can add items at both ends of the range without getting into rather convoluted names.

            Sensible: bomb, medium capacity.

            Daft: Mother/Father of all bombs

            Inbetween: Very Large Telescope. Because that would need to expand upwards as Even Larger Telescope, and after that you get into names like Humongous* Telescope and Brobdignagian Telescope or you have to resort to expletives, and in both cases you have to supply a reference list sorted by size.

            * Huge (pron. Yuuge) is a registered trademark of the Trump Dynasty, and may not be used without permissionpayment.

  4. J. R. Hartley Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Stupid bastards

    When will they learn. One can't simply bomb ISIS out of existence, the same way one couldn't bomb the IRA out of existence. Look at the size of Northern Ireland and consider that at the height of the conflict there were 35000 British soldiers on the ground and they were totally ineffective. To make matters worse, there is no reasoning with ISIS.

    In summary then: we're fucked.

    1. jonnycando
      Mushroom

      Re: Stupid bastards

      So, we're effed, in the meantime, it'll be fun to tear stuff up! And now where that bomb was dropped, the soil is fluffed up and ready for planting poppies. That's what they grow over there after all!

      1. The Average Joe

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Roto Till it via carpet bombing....

      2. Bandikoto

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Fluffy and has had plenty of nitrogen added to the soil.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid bastards

      Islamic militarism is simply the reaction to neoliberalism's action.

      1. SundogUK

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Right, because 'neoliberalism' was a big thing 1400 years ago.

      2. Michael Thibault

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Post hoc fallacy, in part, methinks.

    3. Malignant_Narcissism

      Re: Stupid bastards

      "When will they learn?" Might want to internalize that. This was less to do with bombing the shit out of ISIS and more to send a clear message to Syria, Iran, Russia and most importantly, North Korea.

      1. Bob Hoskins

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Exactly.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Stupid bastards

      How true. But those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. We tried bombing the hell out Vietnam. All we did was knock down trees and generally make a mess of the landscape. Didn't change the course of the war.

      1. The Average Joe

        Re: Stupid bastards

        In Vietnam we were pussies, we had nukes and we used them on Japan. We should have used them on North Korea and Vietnam we would have sent the right message...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Stupid bastards

          "In Vietnam we were pussies, we had nukes and we used them on Japan. We should have used them on North Korea and Vietnam we would have sent the right message..."

          Remind me again, which nuclear powers was it who were supporting and supplying the Vietnamese?

          Did you learn your history from books?

      2. Jaybus

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Well, history is a little conflicting in that regard. The fire bombing, and eventually nukes, actually worked quite well in stopping the "radical Shinto terrorists" in 1944-1945.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Stupid bastards

        The problems in Vietnam aren't what you're mentioning here. The problems in Vietnam began with LBJ's limitations on what the military could do. At one point in the war they were short on bombs, so they sent out planes without payloads as a 'show of force' putting pilots at risk for no good reason. Things like that. More than once it's "you cannot cross this line" so all of the SAM missiles were stored where higher-ups in LBJ's command had no stones enough to go after, causing even MORE losses. Then of course the tunnels, which could have been dealt with if the war hadn't been so badly politicized.

        It should have been like Korea. Instead it was a cluster-blank. [and I was alive during the war, missed the draft by only 3 or 4 years].

        needless to say, what OBAKA was doing with ISIS (calling them 'ISIL' like he was trying to show them respect, and drawing lines and doing nothing when they were crossed) is a completely different policy, not unlike LBJ's policies during the Vietnam war.

        if you want to win a war, let the generals figure out how to do it. I think Trump is doing that.

      4. RealityisntReal

        Re: Stupid bastards

        I read that the North Vietnamese were very close to surrendering due to the bombing. The US stopped the bombing due to the anti-war protesters and that gave the north breathing room to continue. Don't remember where I read that but it is probably findable if searched for. I am pretty sure you can bomb someone enough to get them to quit - worked on Japan.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Stupid bastards

          Yeah have read similar, it ended up being a war of some attrition, not for material in the US though on how many bodies it could tolerate coming back in caskets.

          Thing is though that's pretty much total war too bad if the civvies get carpet bombed etc estimates are between 30% & 50% civilians killed of the total losses.

          You can't do that, half the reason we have problems is because there are people there who have no idea what's going on (there were some studies that suggested the first a lot of Afghans new about 9/11 was when we all turned up pissed off about it) just someone started invading their country. You have things like the Sons Of Iraq who were nicely being employed by the Americans (I think for about $60 a day per soldier.(but would have to go back and check refs), but were then left unemployed after the Shiite gov moved in (they were mostly Sunnis), guess who employs them now?

          Bombing the living fuck out of a culture we don't really have a handle on because of tribalism and religion is not really going to work we do not have enough understanding of the ramifications. Plus Nietzsche may have had a point about hunting monsters and the abyss.

          This was part of my point on buying up opium, you would buy it at a decent price, tell the farmers sell it to the dealers and you have no business (and you would probably be beating the price anyway since per kilo it's about $130 USD; prices 2015). Remove a significant chunk of the opium trade, Afghans start making money, build up the infrastructure, buy their hemp, get them to start a clothing line call it Kush clothing or something, open up the trade in Afghan melons and at some point when they start buying things from us.

          Next time someone from the Taliban turns up and talks about the evil westerners your farmer might be thinking "Well yeah, but if I join you I am going to have to explain to my wife why I can't buy her that channel number five she saw on our Sony flatscreen, i had my eye on a new Hilux, and my kids quite enjoying playing in a team online with a bunch of these Westerners, apparently they are the SAS and erm shooting you lot".

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid bastards

      In summary then: we're fucked.

      No, we are not. We should ignore the humanitarians and enforce a 100% interdict. Nobody goes in, nobody goes out. Once they run out of ammo fighting between themselves and end up having only sticks and stones, we can start slowly encroaching on the interdict area step by step and carpet bombing it with schools, water treatment plants, roads and other similar stuff. This has to happen, however, after DECADES of isolation interdict - no weapons going in, no people going out. Something that is not going to happen any time soon.

      By the way, while it may have hit something in Afghanistan, the whole lot who flew it and who made the preparation plan should be court-martialed. I saw it doing dry runs (thankfully without dropping anything) using UNESCO graded Tracian thombs above Starosel in Bulgaria last week. It was fllying out of Graf Ignatievo airbase. While I am pretty sure the Bulgarians agreed to it training and flying out of there, I have some doubt they agreed to it using a 3000 year old historical monument within a blast range of a resort for the practice bit (I was lazing in the pool and watching it, it was quite a sight). Just imagine what would have happened if there was a mishap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid bastards

        We should ignore the humanitarians and enforce a 100% interdict. Nobody goes in, nobody goes out.

        You'd have to ring the country with troops and machine-gun everyone, civilian or not, who tries to cross. Even disregarding the ethical questions, that would be totally impractical, and at best would just store up problems for the future.

    6. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Stupid bastards

      Nobody tried seriously to bomb the IRA out of existence. With ISIS, I think people in Britain who could potentially be convinced to join them are slowly figuring out that (a) what ISIS does is incompatible with being a human being, and (b) joining ISIS will bring you in situations that are deeply unpleasant, just by being with them, and quite likely to kill you.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Stupid bastards

        With ISIS, I think people in Britain who could potentially be convinced to join them are slowly figuring out that (a) what ISIS does is incompatible with being a human being, and (b) joining ISIS will bring you in situations that are deeply unpleasant, just by being with them, and quite likely to kill you.

        And that same realization by the communities that originally sympathized with the IRA is exactly what brought an end to their support as well. Those people realized that it wasn't a solution, and wasn't improving the world that their children would inherit. Even if they didn't like the political status quo, they had come to the conclusion that it had improved enough to be bearable while they talked to their neighbours about making it better.

        It was always known that military intervention wouldn't help. When the Catholic civil rights marchers went to the then Home Secretary, Jim Callaghan, in 1968 and asked him to send the army in to give them the protection that the local police were not supplying, he famously commented "it's easy to send them in, it'll be the devil's own job to get them out again". A 30-year history lesson that Tony Blair failed miserably to learn.

    7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "In summary then: we're fucked."

      You were on an upvote till that paragraph.

      ISIS have an agenda that no Western state can or will implement.

      It is bu***hit that the cannot be defeated. In Afghanistan bombing the dams that make the region so ideal for growing Opium would be a start. F**k the ruler-de-jour. You can bet either they or their ministers have a fist buried deep in that pie.

      But the core is the cankerous Wahhabism, based in Saudi Arabia and exported by the House of Saud to stop it disrupting their "nice little earner."

      Lacking the guts to confront these Aholes they've instead bankrolled madrasas all over the Middle East to export this infection to other countries.

      Confront Wahhabism. It didn't exist before the 19th century. The idea that it's the majority religion of Saudi is BS.

      1. John R. Macdonald

        Re: "In summary then: we're fucked."

        @John Smith

        Actually Wahhabism goes back to the 18th century and it's the Saudi Kingdom's state religion.

    8. Grunt #1

      Re: Stupid bastards

      NI - not strictly true. We knew most people we wanted to target but due to political considerations and the fact we there to protect the population did not murder everyone we could/should have. We are British after all.

      Vietnam was lost because there was not the political will to go "nuclear" and lose many more US lives in the process. For evidence look at the cost of the Korean conflict, caused partly by the Chinese entering the conflict when their territory was threatened. The world still has to resolve the Korean issue.

      Where possible it is better to talk than shoot, but be ready when needed.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Stupid bastards

        Grunt, what you say is not strictly true either,the SAS initiated a series of hits on the IRA which ended as far as I know with Operation Flavious in Gibralter in the late '80s. We might be British but 'Fair play' is arbitary.

        1. Grunt #1

          Re: Stupid bastards

          I couldn't possibly comment as I have no knowledge.

        2. Grunt #1

          Re: Stupid bastards

          Flavius was in Gibraltar not NI. ( A moot point I know )

          The Spanish should take heed as we seem to be wed to the idea of defending far off places that no longer really have any strategic importance but were once part of the empire.

          Does anyone else think that "bombing" these places with food, aid and support would have prevented the mess we all seem to have been in since 2001? I can't help thinking that 9/11 succeeded as we are embroiled in destroying the lives of many innocent people either through ideology or reaction. Terrorists/freedom fighters normally only succeed where people are oppressed and poor.

          To think I visit The Register for news on tech and science.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Stupid bastards

        "Vietnam was lost because there was not the political will to go "nuclear"

        Considering that the north Vietnamese were supported by the Chinese and Russians, both of whom also had a nuclear strike capability, "going nuclear" could well have meant that we'd not be here to talk about today.

        1. Grunt #1

          Re: Stupid bastards

          Precisely.

  5. Captain DaFt

    You forgot to add this video:

    https://youtu.be/R4FfNYjw6qU

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me

    "What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire," - someone should tell Bill that if you suck all the oxygen out, it'll be very difficult to set the air on fire. Simple physics. Regardless of how big the bomb is !!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here you go:

      "What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen [by lighting] the air on fire,"

      Use your noodle to connect the missing dots next time, and then you might have something more interesting to post than a physics problem all in your head, caused by slightly incorrect wording that you failed to jump over without tripping. :P

      I see they colored the missile the same as our president's skin; orange. As long as this keeps him busy enough to stop molesting women, I'm all for it. GOP; Great Orange Pussy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "you suck all the oxygen out, it'll be very difficult to set the air on fire. Simple physics"

      Isn't that chemistry?

      Regardless, if you don't use such emotive language (regardless of accuracy of it, too), then your line won't be used and youre less likely to get to see your name in the news.

      1. Black Betty

        Strictly speaking chemistry is a branch of physics.

        some text here.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Strictly speaking chemistry is a branch of physics.

          All science is either physics or stamp collecting.

          1. James 51 Silver badge

            Re: Strictly speaking chemistry is a branch of physics.

            I will have to see if I can find the episode of the infinite monkey cage were Brian Cox pulled this line on a biologist and he ripped him to pieces pointing out that compared with biology, physics is simple.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Strictly speaking chemistry is a branch of physics.

            "All science is either physics or stamp collecting."

            That was before DNA and RNA were understood, and biology became a branch of information theory and technology. Which is prior to modern physics.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Flame

      Oxygen is not the only oxidising agent

      if you suck all the oxygen out, it'll be very difficult to set the air on fire

      Derek Lowe, on the properties of ClF3: "The compound also a stronger oxidizing agent than oxygen itself, which also puts it into rare territory. That means that it can potentially go on to “burn” things that you would normally consider already burnt to hell and gone, and a practical consequence of that is that it’ll start roaring reactions with things like bricks and asbestos tile. " (doesn't apply to this bomb, this is just to enlighten people who think you need oxygen to 'burn' stuff)

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Flame

        "Derek Lowe, on the properties of ClF3: "

        IIRC "Ignition" described a 50 ton mishap in the 1950's.

        It just burnt through the concrete until it had fully reacted.

        Insanely incendiary.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: "Derek Lowe, on the properties of ClF3: "

          IIRC "Ignition" described a 50 ton mishap in the 1950's.

          No, just one ton.

          "And even if you don't have a fire, the results can be devastating enough when chlorine trifluoride gets loose, as the General Chemical Co. discovered when they had a big spill. Their salesmen were awfully coy about discussing the matter, and it wasn't until I threatened to buy my RFNA from Du Pont that one of them would come across with the details.

          It happened at their Shreveport, Louisiana, installation, while they were preparing to ship out, for the first time, a one-ton steel cylinder of CTF. The cylinder had been cooled with dry ice to make it easier to load the material into it, and the cold had apparently embrittled the steel. For as they were maneuvering the cylinder onto a dolly, it split and dumped one ton of chlorine trifluoride onto the floor. It chewed its way through twelve inches of concrete and dug a three-foot hole in the gravel underneath, filled the place with fumes which corroded everything in sight, and, in general, made one hell of a mess.

          Civil Defense turned out, and started to evacuate the neighborhood, and to put it mildly, there was quite a brouhaha before things quieted down. Miraculously, nobody was killed, but there was one casualty — the man who had been steadying the cylinder when it split. He was found some five hundred feet away, where he had reached Mach 2 and was still picking up speed when he was stopped by a heart attack."

  7. batfastad

    Proud

    Seeing so much money spent and excitement generated over the creation devices to kill humans makes me proud to be a human. Not.

  8. PhilipN Silver badge

    Contradictory

    I would not want such a mother exploding over my head however deeply dug in I am but there is a lot about this which makes no sense - apart from (1) willy-waving and (2) got it so use it.

    It was not a bunker buster (q.v.) which strikes me as the weapon of choice for this scenario. It explodes in the air. OK accepted that the air is sucked out - actually blown out, which is what every explosion does - but only briefly before it rushes back in - the implosion which follows every explosion. This may - OK will - encourage underground collapse in tunnels whose exit is within the blast field but I am not convinced by the physics unless it is a primitive tunnel system.

    If the US military has not been able to dig out those moving freely (sic) within the tunnel system it suggests a complex of rabbit warrens with limited access, from which it follows that most damage will come from the pressure wave insofar as it reaches downwards. How far is that?

    And are we then talking about a geology of loam or rock?

    Accepted that anyone on the ground and within a certain (limited) distance below ground (measured from ground zero) would be pretty well vaporised but unless they got very lucky I do not see much of a military impact overall.

    Ergo this is a purely political exercise. Which is even more worrying : given that Trump possibly did not even realise they had a MOAB and a likely target in Afghanistan and followed his generals suggestion to drop one. And he does seem to enjoy being surrounded by the military ....

  9. harmjschoonhoven

    Bah

    Why do I hear in all the videos the explosion simultaneous with the blast when the camera is at least several miles away?

    BTW The battle of the Somme started at 1 july 1916 with explosions of two mines (11000 and 13500kg) dug under the German lines. They left a crater 98 ft (30 m) deep and 330 ft (100 m) wide.

  10. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Not the first time this has been tried...

    In Vietnam, we tried the BLU-82 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLU-82) Made some nice craters, cleared some jungle for helicopter landing zones but really didn't do shit to end the war. Big isn't always better.

    1. ridley
      Mushroom

      Re: Not the first time this has been tried...

      "Big isn't always better."

      I think you made a mistake there.

      "Biggly isn't always better."

      There, corrected it for you.

  11. martinusher Silver badge

    What short memories we have....

    The MOAB is just a nicely painted version of something called a Grand Slam, one of a pair of bombs developed in WW2 (by Barnes Wallis) that were designed to penetrate the ground before exploding. The Grand Slam was the bigger of the two, weighing 10 tons. The devices were dropped from lightened/strengthened Lancasters and were designed to go supersonic before impact.

    (The Russian bomb is different, its a fuel-air device designed to produce an intense air burst, it has an estimated yield of 44 tons of TNT.)(The Russians weren't the first to use this technology, the Germans experimented with it during WW2 and (according to one eyewitness, an engineering officer associated with the project) it was only pure luck that the Allies were not presented with a very nasty surprise as they amassed forces for the Falaise gap breakout.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What short memories we have....

      US: "Massize Ordnance Air Blast" aka "Mother of All Bombs"

      UK: "Bomb, Medium Capacity, 22,000 lb,"

    2. JimC Silver badge

      Re: just a nicely painted version of something called a Grand Slam

      It really isn't. The MOAB is a relatively light cased bomb containing a lot of explosive - 18,700 lbs out of total weight around 22,600, and is not designed to penetrate the surface. The Grand Slam had a much heavier case and contained 9,100lbs explosive from around 22,000 lbs, and was designed to go deep. Very different concepts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: just a nicely painted version of something called a Grand Slam

        Either way - still not the largest non-nuclear weapon, as it was reported in certain "news" outlets. Even if you limit that to recent things, wasn't the MOP bigger than MOAB?

  12. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Unique selling point

    You drop this on someone, it is going to be headline news for days. It will distract the electorate from what ever cock up you made no matter how huge. If your cock up is so great that a few days will not cover it, just drop another one! In your next press release you can say "America makes the best bombs in the world!"

    Isn't that worth a few measly hundred million?

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Unique selling point

      That's the /Wag the Dog/ scenario you're thinking of?

      [Repeated line]

      Stanley Motss: This is NOTHING.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Unique selling point

      Indeed. It's the smart bomb video redux. The video footage focuses our attention on the awesome power of this weapon and its amazing accuracy. That we have no way of verifying the claim that it was actually dropped on a tunnel complex underlines the real object of the report: tell the US population that no one messes with America so they can sleep safely and not worry about the budget.

      Massive bombs and chemical warfare worked so well in Vietnam and Afghanistan since 1980, haven't they? Breaking news for the US: the Taliban is winning the war in Afghanistan.

  13. Michael Thibault

    "The explosive power of the bomb, and the pressure wave it generates, means most humans within a one mile radius of the impact point would be killed. If you were in tunnels the situation could be worse."

    There's something worse than being dead?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's something worse than being dead?

      Yes. For example being pinned under a few tons of earth, with your legs broken, and slowing drowning in your own blood, as it fills your pneumothoraxed lungs over the next few days.

      There are still worse things which might happen to you, but this one is quite likely to happen to a person in the caught up in the circumstances described in the article.

      Of course, the Russians have used this tactic very extensively during their Afganistan adventure. It did not do didly squat in the long run then, and it is hard to see how the situation is different for the Americans now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        '..Of course, the Russians have used this tactic very extensively during their Afganistan adventure.'

        Yes, and ISTR the West muttering things along the lines of 'tsk. tsk. so heavy handed' etc. etc. about shit moves like this that the Russians got up to during that round of 'The Great Game'.

        (Not that they really cared, after all, Afghanistan has always been a bit of a 'problem child'..)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Russians have used this tactic very extensively during their Afganistan adventure.

        I think the USA shipping out boat loads of SAMs to the Taliban might be something you aren't factoring. Bombing was going quite well until then. ISIS are rather better equipped of course thanks to our Saudi allies.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Pirate

      There's something worse than being dead?

      Being not quite dead. This also burdens their even less dead mates to get the not quite dead ones out and to some sort of hospital.requiring medical staff to make an effort to fix them up a bit, then their relatives etc. to continue that process as far as that would be possible.

      But that's probably not what the article author intended.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and the end point for this exercise is?

    When the US decided to go into Afganistan nearly two decades ago, the goal was clear a simple: destroy Taliban, get Osama, and "free" the country to become a mini-America.

    Sixteen years, trillions of dollars, tens of thousands of american and hundreds of thousands of afgani deaths later, the taliban are still very much in evidence, stronger than ever. ObL is dead and gone, but the bunch which replaced him is nastier and deadlier than he ever was. And the America is now bombing and killing people with drones in nearly every country in the middle east and north africa, with no end in sight. There is also much less good will towards the US and the "developed" countries in the world than there was 20 years ago.

    Could it be that this strategy is not working, and needs to be rethought?

  15. Domino
    Devil

    Father Of All Bombs?

    It's a pity they didn't go with Father Of All Destruction instead ..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Father Of All Bombs?

      The Russian one is nicknamed Отец всех бомб, which means exactly that.

  16. Scott Broukell
    Coat

    The president is reported to have found himself at the same time both very bigly impressed and also terrified at the specification for the MOAB. It is his understanding that it is capable of sucking all the hair out of the atmosphere.

    <mines the one with 'Making Wigs for Dummies' in the pocket>

  17. Citizen99

    "... The MOAB is a 10.5-ton bomb ...It was dropped from a C-130 Hercules transport plane – the MOAB is too large for conventional bombers ..."

    Re-open the Avro Lancaster and Grand Slam production lines !

    http://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php?topic=41200.0

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re-open the Avro Lancaster and Grand Slam production lines !

      The Handley Page Victor was designed to carry two Tallboys, or one Grand Slam plus some other stuff.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Re-open the Avro Lancaster and Grand Slam production lines !

        You'd think that the venerable B-52 should be up to it...

  18. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Or A380 Bomber variant

    So make a bomb that's so bigly it can only be dropped from a transport aircraft. To make a bigger momma, you need a bigger cargo plane. But the MOAB is GPS guided. So if you've got air superiority and skies safe enough for transports, why not use them as bombers?

  19. masterofobvious

    Seems like posturing more than anything practical achieved when you take in to account:

    Tillerson's in Russia

    Trump is meeting Xi

    There is a carrier group floating over to N Korea with a bunch of rhetoric

    Pictures of nuke tests in Cali and the pacific just got declassified

    Trump needs something to distract from his scandals badly

  20. N2 Silver badge

    The MOAB might be the largest US non-nuke?

    Try the MOP - 30,000lbs of good ole Uncle Sams finest

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The MOAB might be the largest US non-nuke?

      Or the T-12 44,000 lb. Oh, wait they stopped making those by 1950s. About same time as B36s to carry them.

  21. Boohoo4u

    Bomb porn ... I don't judge.

    As long as they don't bring back nukes and torture, I'm OK with it.

  22. julian.smith

    American military success

    The Americans have been in Afghanistan for more than 18 years.

    It's their longest war - even poodles like the Australians left long ago.

    They have accomplished nothing

  23. John Savard Silver badge

    Caves!

    They should have used poison gas instead. This form of attack exhibits a serious disregard for the conservation of speleological resources.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Caves!

      OMG, are you saying the may be a scarcity of Speleologium? Quick, buy shares in Speleologium Mining Corp!

  24. Kapudan-i Derya

    Thank you Register for using it's original name in the headline. It's other name(not actually a name) is for marketing purpose. It knew nobody would call it that in Arab world, that's why it made that English fake title for advertising in English media(Which worked well for both parties). At this point it probably doesn't matter anymore but thanks again for not using their advertiser title.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Daesh-bags" is it's original name? Shows far more self-awareness than Trump, which is simply onomatopoeiac

  25. mhenriday
    FAIL

    Whatever would the world do

    without the US and its wonderful military ? Now that they've dropped the GBU-43/B, all Afghanistan's problems have been solved - and forever ! No doubt they are now embracing fantasies about resolving the problems presently existing on the Korean peninsula in the same expedient fashion....

    I believe the current term is «dickhead»....

    Henri

  26. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    FAIL

    No deals with Russia? Who are you trying to kid?

    It's pretty fscking obvious that Trump would rather start WW3 than admit to being economical with the truth. What does he care when hundreds of thousands of people die? The stupid fat bastard will just be playing golf when the bombs start dropping.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/richard-dearlove-mi6-trump-russia-money-2008-financial-crisis-us-election-a7684341.html

  27. Grumpy70

    As I recall the RAF 617 Squadron dropped 10 ton bombs to sink the "Tirpitz" and massive concrete hardened V1 sites in 1944 and 45. The science of explosives is now 70 years on from then, but these bombs, conceived and designed by Barnes Wallis and carried by Lancaster bombers, crewed by some of the best crews from several British Commonwealth countries, achieved similar earthquake effects to destroy their targets.

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