The Massive Ordnance Penetrator bomb made news last week when its development team won rare accolades and news of a possible target were reported by The Telegraph.It was understood then that there were doubts whether the 30,000 pound bomb would penetrate deeply enough to hit Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities.
Adam Entous and Julian Barnes at The Wall Street Journal now report the Pentagon’s doubts are so strong it has ‘secretly’ submitted a congressional request
for additional funding to enhance the MOP’s ability to penetrate into rock, concrete and steel.It’s thought that the bomb’s first target could be Iran’s worst kep secret, a facility nestled in the mountains near the holy city of QOM.
David Blair at The Telegraph reports that work on the Great Salt Desert bunker began almost five years ago while under the watchful eye of western intelligence agencies. It didn’t take long for them to decide that Tehran was building a deep underground plant to secretly enrich uranium.
Called the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant and disclosed by Obama in 2009, Iran claims the plant is used for purely civilian purposes.
Blair points out that not only did Iran fail to explain the need for secrecy, the Fordow facility holds only 3,000 centrifuges, not enough, he says, for a public power program, “but just enough to produce weapons-grade uranium for nuclear bombs.”
To fill those 3,000 slots, Tehran started to transfer centrifuges from Natanz into Fordow — buried behind dozens of feet of mountain.
The Air Force’s 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator bomb, one of the biggest bombs ever built, and still may be unable to reach the depths necessary to take out the Salt Desert Bunker.
It’s currently the largest conventional piece of ordnance on the planet and the U.S. has the only plane that can deliver it.
Israel’s 5,000 pound GBU-28 bunker buster bomb wouldn’t do the trick, so if left up to them, Iran’s worst secret could continue whatever it’s doing unabated.
The original goal of blasting through 60 feet of concrete and detonating at 200 feet underground, was met with such success that the MOP team won a prestigious prize earlier this month.
One of the requirements of Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s next generation bomber is to accommodate the MOP as the B-52 does now.
Massive bombs like the MOP are part of the U.S.’s initiative to decrease dependence on nuclear weapons as a deterrent.
Secretary of defence Leon Panetta says Iran isn’t the only potential target. “It’s not just aimed at Iran. Frankly, it’s aimed at any enemy that decides to locate in some kind of impenetrable location. The goal here is to be able to get at any enemy, anywhere.”