- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Air Force yesterday tested for the first time the military's largest conventional bomb, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB). The Pentagon labeled as a success the explosion at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The 21,000-pound bomb, creating a huge mushroom cloud, could be used in the Pentagon's "shock and awe" war strategy to bring a quick Iraqi surrender. The satellite-guided bomb was not dropped from a bomber, but from the back door of a four-engine C-130 cargo plane.
Its predecessor, the 15,000-pound "Daisy Cutter," was used several times during the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon never reported what damage was caused, but it was believed to have been dropped on troop concentrations.
Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the MOAB "did what they expected it to do. Nothing malfunctioned."
The bomb unofficially dubbed the "Mother of All Bombs" is guided to its target by satellite signals.
Some area residents felt the bomb's detonation but said the explosion was not as big as they had expected.
"It was kind of weak," said Patricia Sariego, a receptionist at the Best Western hotel in Navarre, on the southern edge of Eglin. She said the blast shook doors.
Asked about the bomb at a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would not say whether it would be used in an Iraq war, and he refused to discuss its capabilities.
"This is not small," he said.
The U.S. military is putting the final pieces of combat power in place in anticipation of an order by President Bush to attack Iraq and depose dictator Saddam Hussein. More than 200,000 U.S. forces are within striking range.
The Air Force bomb is much bigger than any other conventional bomb. The next-biggest the 15,000-pound BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter" was first developed during the Vietnam War to clear landing areas in the jungle.
Jake Swinson, spokesman for the Air Armament Center at Eglin, said there was no on-site news coverage of the MOAB test for safety reasons, but an Air Force chase plane took video that would be made available later to news organizations.
He said that if the Pentagon "wanted to use it [in Iraq], I'm sure we could make some available," but added that he had no information whether or when the weapon might be used in combat.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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