us to test 'mother of all bombs'

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    WASHINGTON - The United States 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 today.

    The Air Force plans to detonate a 9800kg 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 Centre 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 US 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 US-led invasion of Iraq, 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.
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