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The Morning Brew: 5 facts about the "mother of all bombs"

It's Friday. Here's are a few facts about the MOAB used Thursday in Afghanistan.

Here are 5 facts about the "mother of all bombs"

1. Packed with explosives in Oklahoma

The bombs contain 18,700 pounds of explosives that were likely packed in Oklahoma.

Per the Alexandria, Virginia-based defense think tank Global Security,

The 21,700-pound [9,500 kilogram] bomb contains 18,700 pounds of H6, an explosive that is a mixture of RDX (Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine), TNT, and aluminum. H6 is used by the military for general purpose bombs.

We say "likely" packed in Oklahoma because the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant spokesman wouldn't confirm that for an Oklahoman reporter Thursday. Instead, a blog post from the Air Force did, and an Air Force spokeswoman said the blog was accurate, while refusing to comment on its contents. One might consider the inert MOAB in front of the Oklahoma plant a giant clue. The bombs were designed and produced in at Eglin Air Force Base in 2002 for the Iraq War campaign before being shipped to Oklahoma for finishing touches. An Eglin official told The Oklahoman in 2003 they would have been duds had it not been for Oklahoma workers.

2. The MOAB was used for the first time Thursday

While it was developed for use in Iraq, it never exploded there. The military hoped its existence alone would intimidate Saddam Hussein. The bomb's official name is the GBU -43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, and it was used for the first time Thursday against the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

3. How it drops

The MOAB rests in a cradle on an airdrop platform inside a C-130 aircraft. Due to the size of the ordnance, the item is extracted from either an MC-130 Talan II or "Slick" C-130 Hercules by way of a parachute. A drogue parachute extracts the weapon, cradle and platform and, within five seconds, releases the weapon. The GPS-guided weapon has grid fins that open and steer it to its target. 

Source: Global Security

4. Why is it the color of a John Deere tractor?

McAlester workers painted the bombs. According to an Air Force blog post, the weapon was needed in a hurry, and green was the only paint color available at McAlester the weekend the first MOAB arrived. 

5. How big is a MOAB?

It is 30-feet long with a diameter of 40.5 inches. It weighs 21,700 pounds, almost 11 tons. 

It's the largest non-nuclear guided bomb in the U.S. arsenal.

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Juliana Keeping

Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award... Read more ›