That MOAB Bomb Dropped On Afghanistan Actually Cost $170,000

A still from a video released by the U.S. Air Force of the MOAB being dropped on ISIS militants.

The United States Air Force dropped a 21,600-pound Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, bomb on what it said were ISIS militants in Afghanistan on Thursday. At least 36 people were killed in the explosion from the largest American non-nuclear bomb.

But beyond the human cost, there was a debate about the financial price. And it isn’t as much as everyone was saying.


Valerie Irinna, the air warfare reporter for Defense News, managed to snag the scoop from an Air Force source directly:

And $170,000 per unit is a lot cheaper than some of the numbers being bandied about, ranging anywhere from $16 million to a whopping $314 million.

But since we’re dealing with military procurement, that number is a bit fuzzy, according to Business Insider:

The weapon, whose acronym inspired the nickname “Mother of All Bombs,” was produced by the Air Force, not by a third party like Lockheed or Boeing, “so we don’t have a standard procurement cost associated with them,” an Air Force official said.


If you really feel like doing some math, however, the numbers can rack up even further. There’s the cost to operate the MC-130 special mission cargo aircraft used to drop it, which can cost $32,752 an hour, plus the cost of the training the pilots, and on and on and on.

War is expensive as hell in a great many ways.

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Michael Ballaban

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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