The US Air Force could deploy the biggest conventional non-nuclear bomb on a bomber aircraft such as the B-2 stealth fighter as soon as July 2010, Reuters reports.
According to US Air Force spokesman Andy Bourland, the massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) explosive could be fitted to B-2 bomber by 2010 if congress agreed to fund the programme.
“The Air Force and Department of Defence are looking at the possibility of accelerating the programme. There have been discussions with the four congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. No final decision has been made,” Bourland said.
The 30,000lb MOP, which is designed to penetrate up to 200ft underground before exploding and destroying deeply buried bunkers, is currently in its testing stage.
Capable of carrying more than 5,300lb of explosives, the bomb would deliver more than ten times the explosive power of its predecessor, the BLU-109, according to the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency, which has funded and managed the programme.
The air force is currently collaborating with the Defence Threat Reduction Agency to move on to the acquisition phase from the technology demonstration programme.
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The industry speculates that the US is seeking speedy deployment of the MOP as early as July 2010 as viable military option against Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes.