BREAKING: U.S. Military Drops 22,000-Pound Bomb on Afghanistan
U.S. forces in Afghanistan dropped a 22,000-pound bomb on Islamic State forces in eastern Afghanistan Thursday, the Pentagon announced in a statement.
Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was “the right munition” to use against the Islamic State because of the group’s use of roadside bombs, bunkers and tunnels.
It is the first time the bomb, called a GBU-43, has ever been used in combat. The GBU-43 is one of the largest airdropped munitions in the U.S. military’s inventory and was almost used during the opening salvos of the Iraq War in 2003. By comparison, U.S. aircraft commonly drop bombs that weigh between 250 to 2,000 pounds.
This particular bomb is not the biggest in the Pentagon’s non-nuclear arsenal. The larger 30,000 pound GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, designed for destroying heavily fortified bunker complexes, has never been used outside a test environment. While the GBU-57 is heavier, the GBU-43 has a larger warhead and explosive yield.
The U.S. military has targeted similar complexes and dropped tens of thousands of bombs in Afghanistan, raising the question of why a bomb of this size was needed Thursday. It was unclear what the GBU-43 strike accomplished, as the bomb is not designed to penetrate hardened targets such a bunkers or cave complexes. A spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan did not respond to a query regarding the bomb’s effects on its intended target, an Islamic State tunnel complex in Nangahar province.
The Pentagon said in its statement that “U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike.”
The GBU-43 is an evolution of the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 bomb. First used in Vietnam, the C-130-launched BLU-82 was often dropped to turn patches of jungle into helicopter landing zones. This earned the BLU-82 the nickname “Daisy cutter.” The BLU-82 was used multiple times in the early stages of the war in Afghanistan when U.S. forces were closing on Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Read More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/04/13/u-s-military-drops-22000-pound-bomb-on-islamic-state-forces-in-afghanistan/?utm_term=.d2cba52504ca