This afternoon, the United States used a new bomb in Afghanistan, which has been called the largest non-nuclear bomb available. That bomb, which is officially titled the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb — or MOAB — is quite an expensive device. Just how expensive is it? Read on…
The MOAB, which has the nickname ‘mother of all bombs’, was conceived in the early 2000s as what would be the largest bomb ever made without nuclear functionality. It was designed and built by 2003, after which it underwent its first test.
It was tested twice in 2003 in the United States (Florida), then put away for safekeeping for several years. It has not been used in actual combat until today.
Today the bomb was used on ISIS targets in Afghanistan. It was dropped from a C-130 U.S. large aircraft.
The MOAB, or GBU-43/B, weighs around 21,000 pounds (that’s about the weight of a school bus), and is satellite guided. It was designed for the Iraq war, but surprisingly, it was never used in Iraq.
Given the complexity, the project was not cheap. In fact, the C-130 plane just used to deliver the bomb costs around $30 million.
The bomb program for the MOAB ran over decades, and started with several other bombs. The MOAB bomb is made up of a BLU-120/B warhead with a KMU-593/B navigation system. Each of the MOAB’s component systems costs millions of dollars. Compare that with one of the ‘mother of all bombs’ ancestors, which costs around $2000 per unit.
The project cost for the MOAB, or GBU-43/B, includes the costs of developing the the BLU-120 series, as well as the development of the navigation. That entire development comes to a price of over $1 billion in total.
Each ‘Mother of all Bombs’ device costs $16 million USD. There are fewer than two dozen of the devices in existence, according to the maker. The total production cost is around $320 million USD.