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Weapons: Penetration
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December 30, 2007: The U.S. Air Force is modifying the B-2 bomber so that it can carry two 15 ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs [PHOTO]. These 21 foot long bombs have been in development since 2004, with the first test models showing up in 2005. Operational characteristics (how deep the bomb can go in different types of material) have only mentioned the ability to penetrate 200 feet underground. The MOP is mostly metal, with about 18 percent of its weight devoted to explosives. It uses GPS, and inertial guidance, to find its target. The MOP is the latest of a long line of American "superbombs."


In 2003, the U.S. put into service the nine ton MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast), but this has never been used in combat. MOAB is pushed out the back of a SOCOM (Special Operations Command) MC-130E aircraft. The blast can be felt several kilometers away, and the mushroom shaped cloud (that rises to over 10,000 feet) can be seen more than 40 kilometers away.


MOAB replaced the Vietnam era BLU-82 (Daisy Cutter ) bomb, which used a 6.3 ton slurry of ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum. MOAB uses more powerful tritonal explosives. In addition to a more powerful explosion, MOAB doesn't need a parachute, like the Daisy Cutter, but uses a GPS (like JDAM) and an aerodynamic body to detonate the bomb at a precise area. Thus the MOAB can be dropped from a higher altitude (like outside the range of machine-guns and rifles).


MOAB is also shoved out the back of a cargo aircraft (usually a C-130, but since the MOAB uses GPS and higher altitude drops, the C-17 can probably be used as well.) MOAB is a highly destructive and terrifying weapon. If used in combat, the force of a MOAB explosion is sufficient to knock over tanks and kill any people within several hundred meters of the detonation.


Russia has also built a bomb similar to MOAB, but theirs contains 7.1 tons of a more powerful explosive than MOAB or MOB used, and that the blast radius of the Russia bomb is 300 meters, which is twice the size of MOAB, and larger than MOB. While MOAB is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT (the benchmark for measuring different explosives), the Russian bomb was said to be equal to 44 tons of TNT. It also appeared, from the Russian test video, that their bomb was a FAE (fuel air explosive). This could be seen from the typical FAE two stage explosion. A Russian video also showed the  area surrounding the blast, and the damage was consistent with an FAE explosion, and about as powerful as MOAB. It appears that the Russians were making publicity, not a factual announcement of a new weapon.

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George       1/1/2008 11:16:24 PM
It is really nice to see this implementation of a 65 year old idea.
At the start of WW II Barnes Wallis proposed to the RAF the development of 22,000 pound earth-penetrating bombs ("Grand Slam"). It took until the end of the war to implement this 'crazy idea' a find an airplane that could carry it.
It was preceeded by Wallis's famous bouncing bombs for the Ruhr Damns raid and a 12,000 pound earth-penetrating bomb ("Tallboy").
I Googled "barnes wallis grand slam" and the first item was a Wikipedia article with some history, pictures, and bomb specifications. It carried 9,000 pounds of explosives and penetrated 100 feet into the ground when dropped from 22,000 feet. The MOP porbably has a lower proportion of explosive to have a casing that can be dropped from a much higher altitude.
The wiki article notes the much greater impact of a bomb exploding in relatively incompressible earth compared to the rapid dissipation of its effect in compressible air. MOP sounds like a message for some nations with underground nuclear processing facilities.
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