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Its been nearly eight months since the Pentagon sent its largest and most powerful bomb, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), back to Boeing for modifications necessary to take out Iranian nuclear facilities, but the Air Force says it’s now ready to go.Jeff Schogol at defence News reports that Air Force Secretary Michael Donley says that while the MOP bomb continues to be refined and optimised, the Pentagon feels the 30,000 pound piece of ordnance is now sufficient to strike whatever targets the military may have in mind.
While the bomb went back to the drawing board with Pentagon planners considering Iran a potential target, recent developments in Syria offer up alternate possibilities for the MOP’s initial mission.
Schogol mentions in his piece defence Department spokesman George Little who said Tuesday that Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons are much on the minds of military planners: “I think I’ve been very clear,” Little said, “as have others in the U.S. government, that it would be unacceptable not to secure them.”
Securing those weapons could take different forms, from Jordanian special forces, to Turkish ground troops, to bombing campaigns. Though traditional bombings could cause the chemical weapons to be released into the environment, producing catastrophic effects on the ground.
The Heritage Foundation puts the number of facilities chemical weapons storage facilities at 50, but with Syria’s recent deployment of the weapons, the number of locations at which the weapons are stored could change by the day. Most of these facilities would have to be secured by ground troops to prevent the chemicals release.
But underground bunkers Syria may have at their disposal are another story. Independent Media Review & Analysis says Syria has 30 such bunkers, whether that number is accurate may be irrelevant, because there’s little doubt Assad’s regime have them — and that may be where the MOP bomb comes in.
The MOP’s modifications allow it to crash through 60 feet of reinforced concrete and detonate up to 200 feet below ground, giving it plenty of earth to cover up the chemical arsenal it’s targeting.
As the Syria situation continues to unfold it’ll be interesting to see how this chemical weapons situation plays out. In the meantime, the Air Force wants the world to know it’s ready to do its part.
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