Key point: Beijing now has a powerful non-nuclear weapon similar to the one Washington has.
China has joined the “Mother of All Bombs” club.
A Chinese arms maker has unveiled a weapon similar to America’s GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB (hence the nickname “Mother of All Bombs”). The Chinese version was dropped from an H-6K bomber, the Chinese version of the 1950s Soviet Tu-16 aircraft.
Photographs on China’s state-owned Global Times news site showed what appeared to be a large bomb falling from a bomb bay, and then a large explosion. Chinese military analyst Wei Dongxu told Global Times that based on photographic evidence and the size of the H-6K’s bomb bay, the bomb was five to six meters long (16.4 to 19.7 feet long). Chinese media also suggested that the bomb weighed several tons, and was so big that the H-6K could only carry one.
“The massive blast can easily and completely wipe out fortified ground targets such as reinforced buildings, bastions and defense shelters," or knock down trees so troops can rappel down from helicopters, Wei said.
According to Global Times, military observers claimed that “the weapon will also spread fear among enemies if a weapon of this caliber is deployed.”
If any weapon can inspire, it’s giant bombs like these. The MOAB is the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, and the biggest non-nuclear bomb that America has ever dropped. The MOAB is 30 feet long, weighs 21,600 pounds, and is so big that it isn’t dropped by bombers, but rather is shoved out the back of a C-130 transport (the Air Force wants to equip the B-52 to carry them on its wings). Guided by GPS to its target, the MOAB works not by hitting the ground and exploding like a regular bomb, but explodes a few feet above the target in an airburst that destroys everything in the surrounding area with a massive overpressure. This means the force of the bomb isn’t wasted burying itself in the ground, but spreads through the air.