Really Big News

The Air Force announced earlier this week that it intends to award Boeing a contract before the end of the year for the purchase of up to 20 massive ordnance penetrators. The company has been developing these 30,000-pound-class GPS-guidance-aided munitions under Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Air Force sponsorship since November 2004 to give the US the conventional means to smash hardened and deeply buried bunkers and defeat tunnel complexes. The Air Force said it wants five of these MOPs to carry out a flight test program with the B-2 bomber starting in June 2011. The remaining 10 to 15 units would be residual assets available for operational use on the B-2 by June 2012, if needed. The B-2 can carry up to two MOPs, one in each of its two weapons bays. The MOP has already been flight tested on the B-52H. The MOP is approximately 20.5 feet long, with a 31.5-inch diameter. It carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosive material that delivers more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the BLU-109, according to DTRA.