MOP Flight Testing Under Way

Live airdrop testing on a new conventional penetrator weapon began earlier this year, with one live drop already carried out by a B-52 in January, said Harry Heimple, Northrop Grumman’s manager of government requirements, Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium. Air Force Research Lab’s Munitions Directorate at Eglin AFB, Fla., is overseeing the Defense Threat Reduction Agency massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) program, which Boeing is developing to produce a 30,000-pound conventional weapon that would hold hardened deep buried targets at risk. It is intended to be employed by the B-52 and, ultimately, Northrop’s B-2. Speaking with Daily Report on the program’s status, Heimple said a second test scheduled for March would utilize a B-52 as well. As of today, the Air Force has funding for integration and testing the weapon on the B-2 in its 2010 program objective memorandum, but there is an effort underway to speed up testing for the transition to the B-2 program. Heimple said that would ensure the engineering and integration workforce is not idled too long.