Boeing Readies Bunker-Buster Bomb: Washington’s WMD

February 8th, 2013 - by admin

Bloomberg & WIRED Magazine & Business Insider – 2013-02-08 00:57:37

Heavier Bunker-Buster Bomb
Ready for Combat, General Says

Tony Capaccio / Bloomberg

(February 6, 2013) — Crews for US Air Force B-2 stealth bombers have been trained to drop the Pentagon’s 30,000-pound “bunker-buster” bomb, making it ready for combat, according to the commander of the service’s long-range strike command.

“We’re qualified” for using the weapon on the B-2 “and we have sufficient inventory to meet requirements,” Lieutenant General James Kowalski, head of the Air Force Global Strike Command, said today at a breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator made by Boeing Co. is six times bigger than the 5,000-pound bunker-buster that the US Air Force and the Israeli Air Force have in their arsenals to attack deeply buried nuclear, biological or chemical sites.

Pentagon officials have said the 30,000-pound (13,600- kilogram) bomb could be used if the US decides to attack Iran’s nuclear program, with its deeply buried and hardened Fordo facility, which holds a stockpile of enriched uranium.

The bomb “is an extremely capable weapon against hardened” and deeply buried targets, said Kowalski, who is in charge of ensuring the U.S bomber fleet and crews are trained and equipped for any missions directed by US regional commanders. He declined to discuss how the weapon may be used.

Tests last year demonstrated the redesigned bomb “is capable of effectively prosecuting selected hardened, deeply buried targets,” Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, said in a report to Congress last month.

The bomb has a hardened-steel casing and can reach targets as far as 200 feet underground before exploding, according to a December 2007 statement by the Air Force News Service.

Air Force’s Mega-Bunker-Buster Bomb
Is Finally Ready

Spencer Ackerman / DangerRoom, WIRED Magazine

(July 26, 2012) — Just as the US returns its attention to concealed weapons of mass destruction programs in Syria and (possibly) Iran, the Air Force is saying its mega-weapon for blowing up hidden factories of death is finally ready.

That would be the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — all 30,000 destructive pounds of it. It’s an absolutely ginormous bomb designed to convince rogue regimes that there is no redoubt for the manufacture of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons buried deep enough to escape the US Air Force.

The military has been at work super-sizing its bunker-busters for years, and the Massive Ordnance Penetrator is the premier upgraded weapon. Supposedly, it can penetrate 60 feet of reinforced concrete, although it depends just how hard that concrete is. Although the Pentagon has spent over $200 million developing 30 of the bombs, there are doubts over how well equipped it is to destroy the hardened facilities believed to house Iran’s nuclear program.

The secretary of the Air Force does not share those doubts. “If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do that,” Secretary Michael Donley told Danger Room pal Jeff Schogol of [Air Force Times[. “We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing. We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today.”

Donley may not have had Iran in mind. The beleaguered Syrian regime of Bashar Assad is threatening to use chemical weapons against a foreign attack. His chemical arsenal is spread out amongst several concealed sites and stands a giant proliferation risk. Not the greatest opportunity for a mega-bomb — intelligence about the sites is dubious — but the US would rather have the option than not.

Then there’s Iran. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta may have been hinting about the new bomb’s capabilities when he remarked that the US would do a better job of attacking Iran than Israel could. Not that that’s what the Obama administration wants to do.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator may even have a political component to it. During a debate on foreign policy between surrogates for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, former Amb. Rich Williamson accused the Obama administration of ruling out the use of military force for Iran.

The long-awaited arrival of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator would suggest otherwise. (Plus, its acronym has special resonance to fans of a certain era of East Coast hip hop.)

Iran Says America’s Bunker-Buster Bomb Could Set Off A Global Conflict
Robert Johnson / Business Insider

(July 30, 2012) — Following last week’s announcement from the US Air Force that its 30,000 pound bunker-buster bomb, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), was ready for action, Iran’s state-owned media outlet PressTV has published an angry reply.

From PressTV:
[Moves this week by the United States to position specialized massive “Penetrator” bombs for an attack on Iran clearly demonstrate a total lack of grasp by key players of the risks involved and the chain of events that will inexorably follow.

This week, a threat against Iran by the United States was published by the UK Telegraph. Peter Foster, of their Washington Bureau met with Mike Donnelly, US Air Force Secretary to question him about deployment of experimental “bunker buster” bombs… He has no combat experience and cannot fly an airplane. He is a perfect choice to run an Air force.

The dogging of Donnelly’s lack of combat aviation experience kind of sums up the tone for the rest of the very long post.

From there it calls the MOP’s cost , effectiveness, and delivery into question:
[The Massive Ordnance Penetrator] has never been successfully tested. Essentially, it is an 8″ cannon barrel filled with high explosives hoped to be dropped from the B2 Stealth Bomber. Each B2 costs $2.1 billion dollars not to mention the $300 billion in design costs.

It then goes on to to say there are concerns that dropping a “defective bomb on non-existent targets without rationale or legal authority” raises concerns.

From there PressTV mentions it’s also hoped, presumably by the US, that Iran has not modified its air defense like Serbia did in the ’90s — a move that allowed it to shoot down “several” American stealth planes. The reference must be to the F-177A taken down down over Serbia in 1999.

The post then changes the MOP to MOb and says every member of Congress involved in the MOP project “have accepted large campaign contributions from Israeli sources in the past few months and are expecting more.” The response is fascinating, and confusing in equal measure, but well worth checking out.

The MOP was sent back to Boeing at the beginning of the year for modifications that would allow it to penetrate what was believed to be Iran’s deep nuclear facilities. Though still undergoing enhancements and modifications the Air Force says the bomb is ready to take out whatever targets it has in mind.

It appears Iran is convinced those targets may be Tehran’s alleged nuclear facilities.

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