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How MOAB Works

        Science | Explosives

The Power Inside
Air Force workers prepare the MOAB for testing. A GPS receiver uses the flaps shown here to change the direction of the bomb as it falls. Smart bombs like this can hit their targets very accurately.
Air Force workers prepare the MOAB for testing. A GPS receiver uses the flaps shown here to change the direction of the bomb as it falls. Smart bombs like this can hit their targets very accurately.

The MOAB is built by Dynetics and contains approximately 18,000 pounds of tritonal. Tritonal is a mixture of TNT (80%) and aluminum powder (20%). The aluminum improves the brisance of the TNT -- the speed at which the explosive develops its maximum pressure. The addition of aluminum makes tritonal about 18% more powerful than TNT alone.

A Daisy Cutter, by comparison, contains 12,600 pounds (5,700 kg) of ammonium nitrate, aluminum and polystyrene, a combination known as GSX (gelled slurry explosives). GSX is commonly used in mining and is a commercial high explosive that is inexpensive and easy to produce. TNT is a military high explosive.

Front and rear view of a BLU-82 free-fall bomb (Daisy Cutter)
Front and rear view of a BLU-82 free-fall bomb (Daisy Cutter)

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