(ABC NEWS) -- Targeting an ISIS cave complex in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military has for the first time used in combat the 22,000-pound bomb nicknamed the "mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. military's arsenal.
Formally known as the GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, the bomb has been nicknamed the "mother of all bombs" since it was first developed in 2003.
"At 7:32 p.m. local time today, U.S. Forces - Afghanistan conducted a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017," U.S. Forces - Afghanistan said in a statement Thursday. ISIS-K refers to ISIS-Khorasan, the terror group's affiliate in Afghanistan that mainly operates in the eastern part of the country.
"The strike used a GBU-43 bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft," the statement continued. "The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities. "
The 22,000-pound bomb was dropped from the rear of an MC-130 aircraft, said Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman.
The bomb is so large that it is carried in the cargo hold of the aircraft then rolled out the plane's rear door toward its target.
"As ISIS-K's losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense," said Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander, U.S. Forces - Afghanistan. "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K."
Nicholson sought authorization from higher commanders for the use of the bomb, which was moved to Afghanistan some time ago as planning for the mission was underway.
The military statement added: "U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. U.S. Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan."
Afghan forces and the American troops advising them have engaged in heavy fighting with ISIS forces in Afghanistan over the past year.
An American special operations soldier was killed this past weekend in combat operations against ISIS in Nangarhar Province.
Achin District, which is where the bomb was dropped and is a part of Nangarhar Province, is right on the border with Pakistan.