Heavier Bunker-Buster Bomb Ready for Combat, General Says

Crews for U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers have been trained to drop the Pentagon’s 30,000-pound “bunker-buster” bomb, making it ready for combat, according to the commander of the service’s long-range strike command.

“We’re qualified” for using the weapon on the B-2 “and we have sufficient inventory to meet requirements,” Lieutenant General James Kowalski, head of the Air Force Global Strike Command, said today at a breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator made by Boeing Co. is six times bigger than the 5,000-pound bunker-buster that the U.S. Air Force and the Israeli Air Force have in their arsenals to attack deeply buried nuclear, biological or chemical sites.

Pentagon officials have said the 30,000-pound (13,600-kilogram) bomb could be used if the U.S. decides to attack Iran’s nuclear program, with its deeply buried and hardened Fordo facility, which holds a stockpile of enriched uranium.

The bomb “is an extremely capable weapon against hardened” and deeply buried targets, said Kowalski, who is in charge of ensuring the U.S bomber fleet and crews are trained and equipped for any missions directed by U.S. regional commanders. He declined to discuss how the weapon may be used.

Tests last year demonstrated the redesigned bomb “is capable of effectively prosecuting selected hardened, deeply buried targets,” Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, said in a report to Congress last month.

The bomb has a hardened-steel casing and can reach targets as far as 200 feet underground before exploding, according to a December 2007 statement by the Air Force News Service.

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