Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 5: Guided Bombs
Copyright © 2006 Andreas Parsch


The development of the GBU-43/B guided bomb started in mid-2002, when the Munitions Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) began studies to equip the 6800 kg (15000 lb) BLU-82/B bomb with a guidance system. At that time, the BLU-82/B was by far the largest air-dropped bomb in the USAF's inventory, and had originally been used to clear helicopter landing sites in Vietnam. In Afghanistan in 2001, bombs of this type were used to attack caves and tunnel hideouts, where the huge blast effect is particularly effective. However, the lack of any guidance system meant that the C-130 Hercules delivery aircraft had to fly relatively low and directly over the target to achieve the needed accuracy. This could bring the aircraft within range of air defenses, and relatively close to the danger zone of the bomb's explosion. AFRL eventually came up with a design that was even larger than the BLU-82/B, had a more aerodynamic shape, and used GPS-aided inertial guidance. The new weapon was called MOAB, which officially means Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but is often read as "Mother Of All Bombs".

Photo: USAF
BLU-120/B (GBU-43/B without KMU-593/B tail kit)

The GBU-43/B MOAB consists of the BLU-120/B bomb body (containing 8480 kg (18700 lb) of explosive) and the KMU-593/B guidance kit (GPS/INS unit and control fins). The only delivery aircraft for MOAB is the MC-130 Hercules. The bomb is carried in a cradle on a platform in the cargo hold, and the whole assembly is dragged out to the rear by a drogue chute. When clear of the aircraft, the GBU-43/B is released, four movable grid-type control fins on the tail are extended, and the guidance system directs the weapon towards its target. The MOAB's body has two low aspect ratio wings to increase lift and thereby the gliding range.

Photo: USAF

The first guided flight of an inert MOAB occurred on 7 March 2003, and four days later the first live drop was successfully conducted. In April, a single GBU-43/B bomb was shipped to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but in the end it was not used. No information is available about how many GBU-43/B units were built, or how many (if any) are currently in the USAF's inventory.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for GBU-43/B:

Length9.1 m (30 ft)
Diameter1.03 m (40.5 in)
Weight9840 kg (21700 lb)
Warhead8480 kg (18700 lb) BLU-120/B high explosive

Main Sources

[1] Website

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 5

Last Updated: 15 May 2006