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Pentagon eyes accelerated "bunker buster" bomb

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon is seeking to speed deployment of an ultra-large "bunker-buster" bomb on the most advanced U.S. bomber as soon as July 2010, the Air Force said on Sunday, amid concerns over perceived nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran.

The non-nuclear, 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, which is still being tested, is designed to destroy deeply buried bunkers beyond the reach of existing bombs.

If Congress agrees to shift enough funds to the program, Northrop Grumman Corp's radar-evading B-2 bomber "would be capable of carrying the bomb by July 2010," said Andy Bourland, an Air Force spokesman.

"The Air Force and Department of Defense are looking at the possibility of accelerating the program," he said. "There have been discussions with the four congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. No final decision has been made."

The precision-guided weapon, built by Boeing Co, could become the biggest conventional bomb the United States has ever used.

Carrying more than 5,300 pounds of explosives. it would deliver more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the 2,000-pound BLU-109, according to the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which has funded and managed the seed program.

Chicago-based Boeing, the Pentagon's No. 2 supplier by sales, could be put on contract within 72 hours to build the first MOP production models if Congress signs off, Bourland said.

The threat reduction agency is working with the Air Force to transition the program from "technology demonstration" to acquisition, said Betsy Freeman, an agency spokeswoman.

Both the U.S. Pacific Command, which takes the lead in U.S. military planning for North Korea, and the Central Command, which prepares for contingencies with Iran, appeared to be backing the acceleration request, said Kenneth Katzman, an expert on Iran at the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress.

"It's very possible that the Pentagon wants to send a signal to various countries, particularly Iran and North Korea, that the United States is developing a viable military option against their nuclear programs," Katzman said.

But he cautioned against concluding there was any specific mission in mind at this time.

BIGGEST BOMB

The MOP would be about one-third heavier than the 21,000-pound (9.5 million kg) GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- dubbed the "mother of all bombs" -- that was dropped twice in tests at a Florida range in 2003.

The 20-foot-long (6-meter) MOP is built to be dropped from either the B-52 or the B-2 "stealth" bomber. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The suspected nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea are believed to be largely buried underground to escape detection and boost their chances of surviving attack.

During a visit to Jerusalem last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sought to reassure Israel that a drive by President Barack Obama to talk Iran into giving up its nuclear work was not "open-ended."

Iran says its uranium enrichment -- a process with bomb-making potential -- is for energy only and has rejected U.S.-led demands to curb the program.

For its part, North Korea responded to new United Nations sanctions, imposed after it detonated a second nuclear device, by vowing in June to press the production of nuclear weapons and act against international efforts to isolate it.

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Guest Cap-10

Carrying more than 5,300 pounds of explosives. it would deliver more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the 2,000-pound BLU-109, according to the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which has funded and managed the seed program.

If my memory and knowledge is correct, I think DTRA is confused....

"Predecessor" normally menas PRE-ceeds, but the BLU-109 bomb body has been around since the mid 80's.

The GBU-28 was developed and fielded (in 26-29 days) in 1991 for use in Desert Storm using 8 inch artillery tubes....2 were dropped from F-111's.

GBU-28 has demonstrated ability to penetrate 100+ feet of earth....BLU-109 has not to my knowledge.

Cheers,

Cap-10

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Guest whyme?

quietly a bunch of B-2 drivers are chuckling. As the DoD adds another weapon to the "list" they can carry. I think the B-52 can carry the GBU-28

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Guest wildblue
The precision-guided weapon, built by Boeing Co, could become the biggest conventional bomb the United States has ever used

Precision vs. Non-precision kinda seems like a moot point for a 30,000 lb bomb, IMHO.

It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding

That fact alone is amazing to me.

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Precision vs. Non-precision kinda seems like a moot point for a 30,000 lb bomb, IMHO.

100% not true. If you miss the intended target with a penetrating weapon, all you've done is dug a very expensive well. For penetrating weapons, the case takes up most (69%-85%) of the total weight of the weapon. In contrast, traditional GP bombs are about half case and half explosive fill.

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The MOP would be about one-third heavier than the 21,000-pound (9.5 million kg) GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- dubbed the "mother of all bombs" -- that was dropped twice in tests at a Florida range in 2003.

HOLY CONVERSION, BATMAN!

THAT is a serious bomb.

Back to reality, it's still a serious bomb!

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If my memory and knowledge is correct, I think DTRA is confused....

"Predecessor" normally menas PRE-ceeds, but the BLU-109 bomb body has been around since the mid 80's.

The GBU-28 was developed and fielded (in 26-29 days) in 1991 for use in Desert Storm using 8 inch artillery tubes....2 were dropped from F-111's.

GBU-28 has demonstrated ability to penetrate 100+ feet of earth....BLU-109 has not to my knowledge.

Cheers,

Cap-10

I believe the term you're looking for is "BLU-113" and "BLU-113/B".

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I believe the term you're looking for is "BLU-113" and "BLU-113/B".

I'll go with JDAM. Not that 5000lbs of steel won't ruin your day.

Now the GBU57? Now your talking some serious HDBT stuff!

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The test worked recently, important eyes from all around made sure it worked this time. Makes you think why the "rush" on making sure this gets done soon, Iran nuclear testing facilities anyone?

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