The Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) GBU-57A/B is a U.S. Air Force massive, precision-guided, 30,000-pound (13,608 kg) "bunker buster"
This is substantially larger than the deepest penetrating bunker busters previously available, the 5,000-pound (2,268 kg) GBU-28 and GBU-37.
In 2002, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martinwere working on the development of a 30,000-lb (13,600 kg) earth-penetrating weapon, said to be known as "Big BLU". But funding and technical difficulties resulted in the development work being abandoned. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, analysis of sites that had been targeted with bunker-buster bombs revealed poor penetration and inadequate levels of destruction. This renewed interest in the development of a super-large bunker-buster, and the MOP project was initiated by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to fulfill a long-standing Air Force requirement.
The U.S. Air Force has no officially recognized specific military requirement for an ultra-large bomb, but it does have a concept for a collection of massively sized penetrator and blast weapons, the so-called "Big BLU" collection, which includes the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst) bomb. Development of the MOP is now underway at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Design and testing work is also being performed by Boeing. It is intended that the bomb will be deployed on the B-2 bomber, and will be guided by the use of GPS.
Northrop Grumman announced a $2.5-million stealth-bomber refit contract on 19 July 2007. Each of the U.S. Air Force's B-2s is to be able to carry two 14-metric-ton MOPs.
The initial explosive test of MOP took place on 14 March 2007 in a tunnel belonging to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
On 6 October 2009, ABC News reported that the Pentagon had requested and obtained permission from the U.S. Congress to shift funding in order to accelerate the project. It was later announced by the U.S. military that "funding delays and enhancements to the planned test schedule" meant the bomb would not be deployable until December 2010, six months later than the original availability date.
The project has had at least one successful Flight Test MOP launch. The final testing will be completed in 2012.
The Air Force took delivery of 20 bombs, designed to be delivered by the B-2 bomber, in September 2011. In February 2012, Congress approved $81.6 million to further develop and improve the weapon.
On 7 April 2011, the USAF ordered eight MOPs plus supporting equipment for $28 million.
On 14 November 2011, Bloomberg reported that the Air Force Global Strike Command started receiving the Massive Ordnance Penetrator and that the deliveries "will meet requirements for the current operational need". The Air Force now has received delivery of 16 MOPs as of November 2011. And as of March 2012, there is an "operational stockpile" at Whiteman Air Force Base.
In 2012, the Pentagon requested $82 million to develop greater penetration power for the existing weapon.A 2013 report stated that the development had been a success.
Next-generation Penetrator Munition
On 25 June 2010, USAF Lt. Gen. Phillip Breedlove said that the Next-generation Penetrator Munition should be about a third the size of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator so it could be carried by affordable aircraft. In December 2010, the USAF had a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Next Generation Penetrator (NGP).
Global Strike Command has indicated that one of the objectives for the Next-Generation Bomber is for it to carry a weapon with the effects of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. This would either be with the same weapon or a smaller weapon that uses rocket power to reach sufficient speed to match the penetrating power of the larger weapon.
- Length: 20.5 feet (6.2 m)
- Diameter: 31.5 inches (0.8 m)
- Weight: 30,000 pounds (14 tonnes)
- Warhead: 5,300 pounds (2.4 tonnes) high explosive
- Penetration: 200 ft (61 m)
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