Us tests biggest bomb moab
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U.S. tests biggest conventional bomb
21,000-pound MOAB could be used against Iraq
WASHINGTON, March 11 — The Air Force on Tuesday for the first time tested the biggest conventional bomb in the U.S. military’s arsenal, a 21,000-pound munition that could play a dramatic role in an attack on Iraq.
PENTAGON OFFICIALS were still assessing the data, but a spokeswoman at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida said the live test of the powerful new Massive Ordnance Air Burst (MOAB) bomb apparently was successful.
A C-131 “Samaritan” aircraft dropped the bomb on a test range at the western reaches of the base shortly after 2 p.m. ET, and the blast could be heard from offices on the east end of the 724-square-mile facility, said Senior Airman Nicholasa Brown.
The explosion sounded “just like thunder,” she said.
Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the test was completed at Eglin, but she did not immediately know whether it was considered successful.
The MOAB is guided to its target using satellite signals. In a word play on its acronym, military officials have dubbed it the “mother of all bombs.”
MOAB is much bigger than any other conventional bomb in the U.S. arsenal. Dropped out of the rear of a transport plane and guided by global positioning satellites, it spreads a flammable mist over the target, then ignites it, producing a highly destructive blast.
The next-biggest U.S. bomb is the 15,000-pound BLU-82, dubbed the “Daisy Cutter.”
No on-site news coverage of the test was allowed for safety reasons, but an Air Force chase plane filmed the blast and was to make it available later to news organizations.
NBC’s Tammy Kupperman reported from the Pentagon that some officials were pushing for its release for the psychological value of showing the blast to the Iraqis.
Other officials said the Air Force expected to have the bomb available for use in an Iraq war.
“Obviously, anything we have in the arsenal, anything that’s in almost any stage of development, could be used” against Iraq, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The test comes as the U.S. military is putting the final pieces of combat power in place in anticipation of an order by President Bush to attack Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. More than 225,000 U.S. troops are now within striking range.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.