Home / News / Military & Defense / The Air Force is grouping some-more of its biggest nonnuclear explosve — designed to take out subterraneous targets like those in North Korea or Iran

The Air Force is grouping some-more of its biggest nonnuclear explosve — designed to take out subterraneous targets like those in North Korea or Iran

A B-2 Spirit bomber drops a GBU-57 large ordnance penetrator.
YouTube/The Aviationist

  • The Air Force has expelled a buying agreement for the GBU-57.
  • The explosve is designed to take out hardened subterraneous targets like bunkers or tunnels.
  • Such comforts have proliferated around the universe and are used by some countries for weapons programs.

The Air Force has given Boeing a $20.9 million agreement to gain the GBU-57 large ordnance penetrator — a explosve designed to destroy hardened subterraneous targets like those found in North Korea or Iran.

The proclamation does not divulge how many bombs were ordered, but it did contend the work is approaching to be finished by Jul 31, 2020. Boeing is to get the sum volume of the agreement at the time of award.

The 30,000-pound GBU-57 is the US’s largest nonnuclear bomb. A GPS-guided bunker-buster, it is “designed to accomplish a difficult, difficult goal of reaching and destroying the adversaries’ weapons of mass drop located in good stable facilities,” the Air Force fact piece for the arms states.

That includes fortified positions and subterraneous targets, like bunkers or tunnels. It is designed for operational use by the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, which can lift two at a time, but hasn’t been used in combat, and its deployments, if any, are not known.

‘Hard and deeply buried targets’

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency Massive Ordnance Penetrator required explosve being off-loaded at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Mar 2007.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency/Wikimedia Commons

Under a 2011 agreement cited by The Drive, the Air Force paid Boeing $28 million for eight of the bombs, as good as for additional tools and for a redesign of the B-2’s explosve bay. But the latest sequence comes after the Pentagon successfully tested and deployed an upgraded version, the GBU-57D/B, which may have a opposite section cost than prior models.

The latest upgrade, the fourth for the bomb, “improved the opening against tough and deeply buried targets,” an Air Force mouthpiece told Bloomberg in January. The mouthpiece pronounced the upgrade had been finished and the stream register was being retrofitted.

Few sum about the upgrade have been released, but, according to The Drive, it likely includes a mutated fuse, which is obliged for detonating the weapon. The compound is a difficult member that needs to duty with pointing after a tumble from high altitude and the startle of burrowing by earth or other barriers.

The Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation pronounced in its mercantile year 2017 report, expelled in January, that the GBU-57 had successfully finished several tests at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico over the past year, forsaken from B-2s on “representative targets” that “demonstrated efficacy of the Enhanced Threat Response (ETR)-IV arms modifications.”

A arms that ‘boggles the mind’


The GBU-57 is 20.5 feet long, 31.5 inches in diameter, and carries some-more than 5,300 pounds of explosives. Much of the remaining weight is a high-performance steel surrounding that, along with its slight diameter, is meant to help the arms den into the ground. Some guess it could dig up to 200 feet of earth before detonating.

“What is sparkling is when we recover the 30,000-pound MOP, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator,” B-2 commander Lt. Col. Justin “Vapor” Grieve told The Kansas City Star progressing this year. “When you recover that, you can feel it. The craft will actually lift up about 100 feet, and then it’ll settle back down. It’s flattering cool. It’s fun.”

A former Pentagon central who saw footage of GBU-57 tests during 2014 and 2015 told Politico in 2015 that the arms “boggles the mind.”

A US B-52 bomber dropping the GBU-57 during a test.


Those tests came amid a duration of heightened tragedy with Iran, which grown an endless subterraneous network of labs and other comforts concerned in nuclear-weapons development.

More recently, US tensions with North Korea — which has an endless network of subterraneous tunnels, command-and-control bunkers, and barb and nuclear comforts — have again lifted the probability the GBU-57 could used over a battlefield.

In tumble 2017, B-2 bombers and other aircraft were listened during an practice over Missouri that seemed to copy airstrikes on airports in the state, according to a recording obtained by The Aviationist.

During one night of the exercises, an aircraft concerned radioed a summary about a “possible DPRK care relocation site,” whose coordinates forked to a Jefferson City airport hanger. It’s not transparent either the use of unsecured radio channels was a mistake or finished on purpose.

Three B-2 bombers arrived in Guam in Jan in what the Air Force called a designed deployment.

Iran and North Korea are not the only countries that have grown endless subterraneous infrastructure. China’s vital barb forces have a 3,100-mile network of tunnels under plateau in the northern partial of the country. According to a 2009 Jamestown Foundation report, Chinese state media impute to the formidable as an “underground Great Wall.”

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