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The US is secretly developing a new generation of bunker-busters. The prevailing assessment is that these bombs may be required in the framework of existing conflict as well as future ones.

In recent years, the US has been increasing its arsenal of bunker busting bombs. The arsenal at the Diego Garcia airbase primarily consists of blu-122 bombs. Each of these bombs weighs 2.5 tons, including high explosives weighing 400kg. The additional weight primarily comprises rugged steel coating designed to enable the bomb to penetrate deep into the target before it explodes.

These bunker busting bombs are designed for relatively “soft” targets. In order to deal with near-impregnable underground targets, hidden under concrete and bedrock, the US has developed GBU-57 bombs. A few years ago, the US decided to speed up its acquisition of these massive bombs, each weighing 13.5 tons. It seems that future “operational needs” have dictated accelerating the rearmament timetable.

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A few years back, the Ministry of Defense asked for a special budget of $68 million to develop and manufacture 4 mega-bombs by July 2010. The DOD signed a contract with Boeing to develop these huge busters, designed to be carried by a B-2 bomber.

Each of these bombs consists of 2.7 tons of explosives, rendering it capable of penetrating 60-meters thick reinforced concrete. A B-2 can carry two GBU-57 bombs, which are considered the largest in the world.

It seems the Americans are developing these bombs based on their experience during the Second Gulf War, when highly fortified targets have been bombed with only partial results in some cases.

Iran’s nuclear facilities and missile production sites are known to have been built in deep underground shelters fortified with concrete and steel. The development of next generation bunker busters is not related to Iran, but it seems the Pentagon has realized the need for such mega-busters.

Experts argue that the combination of a bomb’s special metal body, its guidance system and the quantity of high explosives could make for a penetration capability into hitherto impregnable targets.

Arie Egozi iHLS editor-in-chief
Arie Egozi
iHLS editor-in-chief