[credit provider=”Wikipedia Commons”]
The Massive Ordnance Penetrator is the biggest bomb in the U.S. arsenal, capable of plunging through 60 feet of reinforced concrete and detonating 200 feet underground.It’s the perfect weapon for, say, targeting underground nuclear labs that might be hidden from the prying eyes of IAEA inspectors, but not immune to the technological prowess of U.S. satellites.
A lab like the one nestled in the Iranian mountains near the city of Qom called the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant. The lab is buried so deep within Iranian bedrock that it’s thought the MOP bomb won’t be able to dig in and destroy it, should it ever be expected to try.
Talk of beefing the bomb up with a hardened case and further advancements has been ongoing since the Air Force took delivery; and Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg reports the Pentagon has indeed given approval to immediately shift $81.6 million to improve America’s largest bunker-buster.
Pentagon spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins told Capaccio in an email that the funds that were shifted to the MOP program came from an “urgent request.”
The request was likely initiated after the Jan. 9 announcement from Tehran that it would begin using the Fordow facility for uranium enrichment.
The IAEA has since confirmed the enrichment and the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington founder David Albright says the lab is buried under 295 feet of rock—nearly 100 feet out of reach of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator in its current configuration.
The Air Force took delivery of 20 of the 30,000 pound bombs that contain 5,300 pounds of explosives each, in September. Capaccio points out that an Air Force fact sheet says “final system refinement, design and test will be complete in 2012, with additional deliveries in 2013.”