On 11 Mar 03, at about 1300 hours (1:00 PM), Eastern Time, the Air Force conducted the first full operational test of the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst) bomb, quite literally the largest non-nuclear bomb in the world. The test was conducted at Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida.
The MOAB is designed to replace the BLU-82B "Daisy Cutter," which was used successfully in Vietnam for clearing thick jungle areas to create instant landing zones for Army Helicopters, and again during the Gulf War (where 11 Daisy Cutters were dropped from Special Operations C-130 aircraft), and again in Afghanistan.
MOAB officially stands for "Massive Ordinance Air Burst," but many folks involved in the test program have begun referring to the weapon as "Mother of All Bombs." While the test was reported to be a success, it's too soon to tell if enough MOABs can be manufactured in time for use in any potential conflict with Iraq. However, there is no doubt that part of the reason for the timing of the test was to rattle nerves in Iraq.
There is not yet much public information available about the MOAB. It weighs 21,500 pounds, compared to the 15,000 pound Daisy Cutter, and is the size of a small truck. Like the Daisy Cutter, the MOAB is designed to be dropped out of the back of a C-130 aircraft, but can possibly be dropped from a C-17 aircraft, as well.
Unlike the Daisy Cutter, which is a free-fall (dumb) bomb, that descends attached to a parachute, the MOAB is a precision bomb guided by GPS (Global Position Satellite). After being pulled out of the cargo hold of the aircraft by a parachute, the parachute releases, and the GPS guides the bomb to the target destination. At a designated altitude, the MOAB sprays the area with a highly flammable mist, which is then ignited by a conventional explosive within the bomb. The results are a truly devastating explosion that can destroy tanks, buildings, and personnel in an area of several hundreds of meters.