The U.S. Department of Defense has released footage of the dropping of a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb on an Islamic State group stronghold in Afghanistan. The weapon is the largest non-nuclear explosive in the U.S. arsenal, giving it the nickname of "mother of all bombs" (video below).
On April 13, U.S. forces deployed an MOAB in the Achin District of the Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Pentagon officials said that the bombing targeted a series of tunnels used by ISIS militants.
On April 14, the DOD released footage of the MOAB hitting its target. The black and white footage shows the explosive dropping and then detonating, encompassing a massive radius, according to ABC News.
In the footage, the bomb can be seen streaking down from the sky and onto the valley of a mountain. Once the small dot makes contact, it erupts into a massive black mass, its shockwave spreading across the surrounding area like cracks on a pane of glass. The explosion then contracts and curls into a towering cloud of smoke.
Weighing in at roughly 10 tons, the MOAB was dropped from an MC-130 aircraft. The strike in Achin District was the first time that the bomb has been against an enemy combatant.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri has said that initial analysis estimates that the explosion killed 36 ISIS militants. That is the official count, while Afghan provincial governor's office spokesman Attaullah Khogyani asserts that the blast killed up to 82 militants, The New York Times reports.
Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. told reporters that the MOAB had targeted several caves that ISIS militants were using to evade coalition forces, as well as an array of roadside bombs.
"This is the first time we have encountered an extensive obstacle to our progress that was constituted by I.E.D.s, the presence of tunnels and caves, and therefore this was the appropriate weapon to use at this time," Nicholson said during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. "It was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield, and it has enabled us to resume our offensive operations."
Currently, there have been no reported civilian deaths resulting from the bombing. Nicholson stated that U.S. forces had "surveillance over the area before, during and after the operation, and now we have Afghan and U.S. forces on the site and see no evidence of civilian casualties."
It is not clear whether or not President Donald Trump personally ordered the strike. The Commander in Chief has given military commanders broad discretion to authorize strikes.
The president praised the deployment of the MOAB as a successful mission for the U.S. military.
"So we have incredible leaders in the military, and we have an incredible military, and we are very proud of them," Trump said, according to Business Insider. "And this was another very, very successful mission."