By Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes
The military's newest and most powerful ground-penetrating bomb is not intended for Iran's underground nuclear and weapons facilities specifically, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.
"The system's not aimed at any one country," said Pentagon spokesman, Capt. John Kirby. "It's to develop a capability we believe we need."
The new Massive Ordinance Penetrator, known as the MOP, is able to explode 200 feet underground and designed to destroy deeply buried and fortified targets such as the ones Iran is believed to have constructed to protect its nuclear research facilities.
"It gives us a far greater capability to reach and destroy an enemy's weapons of mass destructions that - weapons of mass destruction that are located in well-protected underground facilities, without getting into specifics, to - to a magnitude far greater than we have right now," Kirby said at a Pentagon briefing.
The Air Force has contracted from Boeing for 20 of the bunker-buster bombs. It took the first delivery in September, according to Pentagon official. The official, citing operational security limitations, would not provide details about how many have been delivered.
There were three separate orders placed by the Pentagon with the final one placed in August. The bomb is said to be more than 20 feet long and 30 inches in diameter and weighs some 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilos).
It is more powerful than its predecessor, the BLU-109, and is a "relatively simple weapon," according to information posted by the military's Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
"The MOP relies on gravity to turn its massive weight into tremendous kinetic energy. Designed to penetrate supposedly untouchable facilities in one piece, the MOP will defeat our adversaries' (weapons of mass destruction) before they leave the ground," according to the description on the website.
Air Force Lt. Gen. James Kowalski talked about the bomb in a speech in suburban Washington in September when discussing Air Force capabilities to deliver long-range payloads, saying the MOP "giv(es) the warfighter increased capability against hardened and deeply buried targets."