The US Air Force is developing an advanced “bunker-buster” bomb that should be ready for deployment by mid-2010, senior Pentagon officials say.
The US has been “working on technology that allows us to get at deeply buried, hardened targets” since 2004, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters at the weekend.
The American Forces Press Service reports development of the bomb has taken longer than originally envisioned because of variables in the budget process. Whitman added that it is now back “on track.”
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell last week told reporters that the department is developing a massive penetrator bomb designed to pulverize underground facilities that may store weapons of mass destruction and related systems.
At a hefty 30 000 pounds (about 15 metric tons), the new penetrator bomb weighs almost four tons more than the US military’s former heavyweight champion, the nearly 22 000-pound (roughly 11mt) massive ordnance air blast conventional bomb, known by the acronym MOAB.
The massive penetrator bomb will be in a class by itself and represents a unique capability, Whitman said.
“We don’t have any other 30 000-pound bombs,” he said.
The late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had used underground facilities to hide and protect some of his military technology, Whitman pointed out to reporters. Some other countries, he said, have emulated this technique.
The existence of hardened, underground military facilities “is not a new phenomena, but it is a growing one,” Whitman said.
Therefore, he said, the department decided to develop a new penetrator bomb, which should be ready by next summer.
Although there was no “urgent” reason to develop the new bomb, defence planners recognised the need to obtain it, Whitman said.
Such a weapon is “an important capability to have,” he said.