The US Air Force wants to speed up production of about ten to 12 bunker buster bombs amid growing concerns over Iran and North Korea's suspected nuclear programmes.
The Defense Department last month requested $68m to speed up the output of the non-nuclear, 30,000lb massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) and for related services to integrate the new weapon aboard a long-range bomber.
The 30,000lb MOP, currently being built and tested by Boeing is designed to penetrate up to 200ft underground before exploding to destroy bunkers deep below the earth. surface.
According to Reuters reports, US Air force official Lieutenant General Mark Shackelford said that the military is seeking to build a small inventory of ten to 12 bombs.
"These are purchases beyond just those needed to test the capability," he said.
The bomb, with over 5,300lb of explosives, can be dropped either from a B-52 or a B-2 stealth bomber and would deliver more than ten times the explosive power of its predecessor, the BLU-109.