• In 2007, Russia tested the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power, which has been dubbed the ‘father of all bombs’.
  • The bomb is four times more powerful than the MOAB. Though lighter at 7,000kg.

=> What exactly is the ‘mother of all bombs?

       Recently, the US dropped the most destructive non-nuclear bomb ever used in            combat on an alleged target of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan.              The bomb, officially known as the GBU 43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast and                colloquially as ‘the mother of all bombs (MOAB)’, has been in the US arsenal                since 2003. It weighs over 10,000kg and its blast yield is equivalent to that of 11            tonnes of TNT.

  The MOAB was developed to replace the BLU-82, also known as the ‘daisy cutter’, a  6,800kg bomb used in the Vietnam war to create instant helicopter landing sites.      The explosive force could vaporise trees in a 76-metre radius. The MOAB is,                however, not the heaviest bomb in the US arsenal. The heaviest conventional bomb possessed by the US military is the 14,000kg GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which has never been used. However, its blast yield is lower than that of the MOAB.

=> Is MOAB the world’s most destructive conventional bomb?

No. In 2007, Russia tested the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power(ATBIP), which has been dubbed the ‘father of all bombs (FOAB)’ as it is four times more powerful than the MOAB. Though lighter at 7,000kg, the bomb has a blast yield equivalent to that of 44 tonnes of TNT.

=> How do the bombs compare to N-bombs in destructive power?

The blast yields of these bombs are minor compared to nuclear weapons. The ‘little boy’, the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during the Second World War, had a blast yield equivalent to that of about 15,000 tonnes of TNT — over 300 times the destructive power of the FOAB. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated was the ‘tsar bomba’, the ‘king of all bombs’, when it was tested in 1961. Its blast yield was equivalent to that of 50 megatonnes of TNT.

=> Do FOAB and MOAB employ the same technology?

The MOAB is different from other conventional weapons on account of the high ratio of explosive to other material. Most conventional bombs have a small percentage of explosive material and much larger casement, which breaks into pieces and kills people. The major part of the energy of these bombs is used to accelerate the fragments that hit targets.


The MOAB, on the other hand, creates a huge blast that generates immense heat and pressure waves that have a far wider reach than conventional bombs. Unlike fragments, the fireball and blast can travel around corners and penetrate areas inaccessible to bomb fragments, and can hence be used effectively against terrorist bunkers.


The consumption of gases in the blast also generates a partial vacuum that sucks the air out of the lungs of anyone within range. There is a different technology at work in the FOAB, which detonates in two stages; in the first stage, a small part of the energy is released. The main explosive materials are then dispersed into the air. The explosive either ignites spontaneously, or after a second explosion, which causes an after-burn effect. Explosives used in FOAB are oxygen-deficient. Additional oxygen is used from the air for complete combustion of the dispersed explosives to create a huge blast.