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U.S. to Test 'Mother of All Bombs' at Florida Base


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military plans this week to conduct its final developmental test on the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal, a weapon so big it is dubbed the "mother of all bombs," the Air Force said on Tuesday.

The Air Force plans to detonate a 21,700-pound satellite-guided GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, on Thursday at Eglin Air Force Base in the panhandle of northwestern Florida, said Jake Swinson, a spokesman for the Air Armament Center at the base.

The huge conventional bomb will be dropped from an MC-130 Combat Talon cargo plane onto a test range at the base, Swinson said.

"This is the last development test," Swinson said, noting that the massive bomb will then become available for use as U.S. military commanders deem appropriate. Swinson said the bomb had undergone "a few minor modifications."

The MOAB has had just one previous live test when it was detonated at the same base on March 11, the week before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (news - web sites), producing a large, mushroom-like cloud. There were two previous inert tests of the bomb, Swinson said.

The MOAB spreads a flammable mist over the target, then ignites it, producing a highly destructive blast.

The Air Force has created it as a successor to the 15,000-pound (6,800-kg) BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter," with some inside the military dubbing the MOAB the "mother of all bombs."

The "Daisy Cutter" was originally designed to clear helicopter landing zones in Vietnam. It was used in an bid to clear mines and for psychological effect against Iraqi forces during the Gulf War (news - web sites) in 1992, and used in 2001 in Afghanistan (news - web sites) on tunnels thought to be the hide-outs of al Qaeda figures.

Swinson said the latest test had been scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed until Thursday because of poor weather conditions.

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