Bunker buster bombs from US may be defective

Israel concerned that recently purchased laser-guided bombs may carry defective fuses that could cause premature detonation.

By
December 26, 2011 18:04
2 minute read.
Drone (illustrative)

Drone (illustrative). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Israel is seeking clarifications from the United States to ensure bunker buster bombs it recently purchased are not carrying defective fuses that could cause their premature detonation.

Last week the US settled a lawsuit against a defense contractor for allegedly supplying it with faulty fuses.

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The laser-guided bomb, GBU-28, weighs about 2.5 tons and is reportedly capable of penetrating 30 meters of earth or alternatively 6 meters of concrete.

The bomb was initially developed in the 1990s to penetrate hardened Iraqi command centers located underground.

Israel ordered its first batch of the GBU-28 from the US in 2005 and reportedly received them a year later. In 2007 it asked the Pentagon for another batch of bombs but the delivery was delayed due to concern in Washington that Israel planned to use the bunker buster bomb to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, some of which are located in fortified bunkers.

In September, Newsweek reported the Obama administration had recently decided to authorize the delivery of 55 GBU-28 bombs as part of an aid package aimed at improving ties with Jerusalem.



There are now concerns in Israel that some of the bombs supplied to Israel over the years could have been installed with defective fuses.

On Friday, the US Justice Department announced it had reached a settlement with aerospace manufacturer Kaman Corp., which allegedly substituted a fuse in four lots of fuses made for the bombs. Under the settlement, Kaman Corp. will pay the government $4.75 million.

The US government alleged in its lawsuit against the company that the installation of defective fuses could lead to the premature detonation of the bomb and cause accidental misfires.

In September 2010, the US Defense Department announced it had awarded Kaman Precision Products, a subsidiary of Kaman Corp, a $35m. contract to manufacture fuses for four foreign countries. One of those countries was likely Israel. South Korea is also in possession of the GBU-28.

Israel first filed a request to purchase the GBU-28 in the 1990s but only received Pentagon approval for the sale in 2005 in a deal estimated at about $30m.

According to Jane’s – a weapons reference organization – it received 100 units of the bomb in 2006, during the Second Lebanon War and as part of a US weapons shipment to help Israel destroy hardened Hezbollah targets.

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