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Thursday, January 30, 2014
The non-nuclear option for hard to reach targets
. Bunker-Buster Bomb Upgrades Effective, Tester Finds By Tony Capaccio Bloomberg Jan 29, 2014 Upgrades that let the U.S. military’s most powerful precision-guided bomb hit more deeply buried targets have been successful, according to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester. The Air Force in May and July dropped the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator made by Boeing Co. from B-2 stealth bombers on targets to evaluate an upgrade called the Enhanced Threat Modification. Based on those exercises, the penetrator, called a bunker-buster, is “capable of effectively” attacking “selected hardened, deeply-buried targets,” Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation, said in his annual report on major weapons released today. The bomb, which can be dropped only from the B-2, would be counted on if the U.S. carried out military strikes on some Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran has reached a six-month agreement with the U.S. and five other nations to limit its nuclear program during efforts to craft a permanent accord. In his annual Worldwide Threat Assessment, released today, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Iran is “trying to balance conflicting objectives” in its nuclear program, at once trying to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities while “avoiding severe repercussions” from economic sanctions or a military strike. “We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” the report said. “If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions and stand ready to exercise military options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon,” President Barack Obama said last night in his State of the Union address. Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick today said the service won’t disclose how many of the bombs have been delivered. In 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a House committee that the bunker-buster bomb “is designed to accomplish a difficult, complicated mission of destroying our adversaries’ weapons of mass destruction located in well-protected facilities.” The Pentagon won congressional approval in early 2012 to shift $81.6 million to the improve the weapon. The move, made shortly after the Air Force took delivery of the original bombs, followed Iran’s announcement on Jan. 9, 2012 that it would begin uranium enrichment at its Fordo facility near the city of Qom that’s tunneled into granite mountains. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said in a request to Congress at the time that the money was needed to “fix issues identified in testing, including tail-fin modifications and integrating a second fuse, enhance weapon capabilities, build test targets and conduct live weapon testing.” A December 2007 story by the Air Force News Service described the original version of the bomb as having a hardened-steel casing and the ability to reach targets as far as 200 feet (61 meters) underground before exploding. The 20.5-foot-long bomb carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosives and is guided by Global Positioning System satellites, according to a description on the website of the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. January 30, 2014 at 1:41 PM Delete
By scooby at January 30, 2014
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