The Pentagon has awarded a contract to McDonnell Douglas Corporation to integrate the massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) bomb onto the air force B-2 test aircraft under a $51.9m contract.

The 30,000lb MOP, which is designed to penetrate up to 200ft underground before exploding in order to destroy 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.

The B-2 stealth bomber is a long-range aircraft that can fly unrefuelled up to 6,000nm and carry over 20t of conventional and nuclear ordnance.

The US intends to deploy the MOP as early as July 2010 as a viable military option against Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes.