Senior Pentagon officials told Congress the nation’s largest conventional bomb, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), is ready for action.The Air Force said as much back in June after rushing the MOP back to Boeing for $82 million in modifications and enhancements, but this report puts it on the books as deployable ordnance.
According to Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio, on his annual report, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing Michael Gilmore confirmed that tests conducted with the heavy GBU-57, a 20-foot long, 30,000 pound GPS-guided bomb thought able to penetrate 200 feet of concrete before exploding, have demonstrated that the redesigned bomb is able to hit and destroy deeply buried targets.
The enhanced MOP features tail-fin modifications to fix bugs identified in testings as well as as a second fuse to destroy hardened underground targets.
Gilmore’s report says that the modifications were tested with five bomb drops from a B-2 stealth bomber on the White Sands Missile Range, conducted between June and October, and two ground tests.The Pentagon tells us the B-2 is the only platform in the U.S. Air Force inventory able to carry and release its heaviest bomb, even if B-52s were used in previous tests.
The MOP is the bomb experts believe Israel needs if it wants to de-rail Iran’s nuclear program for any length of time. While our Mid-East ally has a fresh supply of GBU-28 bunker busters, they are one-sixth the size and far less capable.
The MOP might actually be the only conventional bomb to best Iran’s concrete technology, which is perhaps the most advanced in the world. The country lies on a very active seismic fault, making earthquakes a part of Iranian life. In response, Tehran’s concrete industry has developed Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) doped with quartz and poured under the country’s own high-demand blend of international codes.
This is the stuff military planners and field officers think of when they cite the MOP’s 200-foot concrete penetration capability; and why the already super-capable Boeing bomb was sent back to the drawing board for additional work in the first place.
Now the military will need to prove it’s capable of besting the advanced designs of the world’s most secure military bunkers, and that will take more than just a better bomb.
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