A really big bomb

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Apparently citizens in Covington County who reportedly felt the blast of the 21-thousand pound bomb dropped by the U.S. Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base Tuesday were not alone. And, according to Eglin officials, the reports aren't surprising.

"I'm not surprised it was felt all the way up there," said Jake Swinson, public affairs officer. "We have had a lot of reports from people in the areas north of the test site. Apparently the weather conditions were just right for the shock waves from the blast to travel in a more northerly direction."

Although the bomb, MOAB, stands for Massive Ordinance Air Blast, several people have nicknamed it the "mother of all bombs."

"Some people have called it the mother of all bombs, and that could be an appropriate nickname, that's not what it stands for," Swinson said with a little laugh. "It's a big bomb, that's for sure, but that's not what it stands for."

MOAB was dropped from a C-130 cargo plane onto the Western Range, Grid B-70 at Eglin Air Force Base around 1 p.m.

Swinson said the bomb was safely and loudly detonated where it was supposed too, and that "it was felt significantly in the Crestview area, and created what was reported to be a 10-thousand-foot tall mushroom cloud visible for several miles."

The deployment of the bomb was in and of it itself unique, aside from being dropped from a cargo plane.

"It was placed on a 4-thousand pound palette, attached to a parachute, and the cargo door opened," Swinson said. "The parachute drug it out, and once it was deployed, a global positioning guidance system took over."

Another unique feature of the bomb was the detonation.

"The bomb was designed to go off just as it reaches the ground to maximize its effectiveness," Swinson said. "It never reaches the ground, but explodes before it hits. It's a very massive psychological weapon, and is currently the largest weapon in the Air Force's inventory."

When asked what a bomb of this magnitude could be used for, Swinson said it "would be very useful and effective on groups of military or military installments. It's nothing that would be dropped on a civilian population, and it's unknown at this time if it will be used in Afghanistan or the Middle East."

In the future, Swinson said Eglin will notify citizens in south Alabama of tests ahead of time, especially with the success of the MOAB bomb.

"Alabama is very important to Eglin," he said. "Troy produces several weapons for us, and in several people live in south Alabama and work here on base. We like to consider that part of Alabama as part of the Eglin family, and will continue to work with them and keep them informed."