Bloomberg: The U.S. military doesn’t have Iran or any particular country in mind as it buys 20 of Boeing Co. (BA)’s new 30,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, the Defense Department spokesman said today.
By Tony Capaccio
The U.S. military doesn’t have Iran or any particular country in mind as it buys 20 of Boeing Co. (BA)’s new 30,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, the Defense Department spokesman said today.
The huge weapon, dubbed the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, is built to fit the B-2 stealth bomber. The Air Force Global Strike Command started receiving the first of the bombs in September, the service said Monday.
The MOP gives the U.S. an enhanced ability to destroy deeply buried military facilities, such as those Iran is using to shelter its nuclear activities from possible attack by Israel or the U.S.
The bomb “gives us a far greater capability to reach and destroy an enemy’s weapons of mass destruction that are located in well-protected underground facilities,” spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby told reporters today.
Asked if the Iranian government should take a message from the Air Force delivery announcement, Kirby said the bomb “is not aimed at any one country. It’s to develop a capability we believe we need.”
The bomb is the U.S. military’s largest conventional penetrator. It’s six times bigger than the 5,000-pound bunker buster that the Air Force now uses to attack deeply buried nuclear, biological or chemical sites.
Chicago-based Boeing is manufacturing the bomb, which was successfully demonstrated in March 2007. Twenty bombs have already been contracted, said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
200 Feet Penetration
Little authoritative information has been published about the bomb’s capability. A December 2007 story by the Air Force News Service said it has a hardened-steel casing and can reach targets as far into the ground as 200 feet before exploding.
The 20-foot-long bomb contains 5,300 pounds of explosives and is guided by Global Positioning System satellites, according to a description on the Web site of the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
“Designed to penetrate supposedly untouchable facilities in one piece, the MOP will defeat our adversaries’s WMD before they leave the ground,” DTRA said.
Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities are dispersed over a broad area. Iran has repeatedly asserted that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian goals, such as power generation.
Iran is following the lead of China, Russia and North Korea in protecting its Natanz and Qom nuclear facilities by moving them underground, the Defense Intelligence Agency director, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, told a Senate panel in February.
“Buried, hardened facilities and improved air defenses are key elements of Iran’s extensive program to protect its nuclear infrastructure from destruction,” Burgess said.
“The spread of western tunneling technology and equipment is contributing to a rise in construction by countries and organizations that have not previously used modern techniques,” he said.
Authorities in Tehran announced recently that they’re moving some uranium enrichment from a more vulnerable site at Natanz to a location at Qom that is 90 meters (295 feet) under rock, said David Albright, who is founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.