By lex, on November 17th, 2011
The GBU-28 was the first conventional bunker busting bomb. The initial lot were fabricated using the barrels of 8″ howitzers, and were part of an extremely rapid turnaround – three weeks – designed to overcome Saddam Hussein’s underground command and control nodes prior to the ’91 scrape. Only two of the weapons were actually delivered, and both functioned as designed. They weighed in a 5000 pounds, two-and-a-half times heavier than the MK-84, the largest conventional bomb carried by the FA-18 at that time.
You are now cleared to call the GBU-28 a lightweight:
Aerospace giant Boeing Co. has delivered the first batch of 30,000-pound bombs, each nearly five tons heavier than anything else in the military’s arsenal, to the U.S. Air Force to pulverize underground enemy hide-outs.
At a total cost of about $314 million, the military has developed and ordered 20 of the GPS-guided bombs, called Massive Ordnance Penetrators. They are designed to be dropped on targets by the Boeing-made B-52 Stratofortress long-range bomber or Northrop Grumman Corp.’s B-2 stealth bomber.
In an age of new emphasis on drones and lightweight weaponry, the Air Force’s purchase highlights the Pentagon’s ongoing need for defense contractors to build the kinds of big bombs and other heavy-duty ordnance they have produced for decades.
Packed with more than 5,300 pounds of explosives and more than 20 feet long, the giant bunker-busting bombs were tested at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the site of the first atomic bomb test during World War II.
Earlier this month, Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, who oversees the B-2 fleet at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, told Air Force Magazine that there is “no other weapon that can get after those hard and deeply buried targets” like the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. It “is specifically designed to go after very dense targets … where enemies are putting things that the president of the United States wants to hold at risk.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could not be reached for comment.