In the face of possible military intervention in Syria and a strike against
Iran, the United States has announced that its largest bunker-buster missile
capable of penetrating underground facilities is operational and ready for use
Called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), the 30,000-pound
bomb – which contains over 5,000 pounds of explosives – was originally designed
to take out hardened fortifications in Iran and North Korea.
announcement that it is operational comes at a time that the western world is
increasingly concerned over the potential proliferation of Syria’s chemical
weapons to Hezbollah.
“If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do
that,” United States Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the 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’s announcement that the MOP is
operational comes after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told The Wall Street
Journal earlier this year that the bomb had shortcomings against some of Iran’s
deep bunker facilities. According to the report, the Pentagon has spent over
$300 million to develop the bomb, which is made by Boeing.
closely followed the development of the MOP, also known as the GBU-57. The MOP
is said to be able to penetrate around 60 meters. It is unclear, however, how
Israel would deploy such a bomb which would not fit onto its current fleet of
combat aircraft. The US Air Force intends to deploy the MOP on B-2 bombers which
can carry a far larger payload than the Israel Air Force’s F- 15s and F-16s.