July 23, 2007 Just how important does someone have to be to have their own 30,000 pound bomb delivered by a billion dollar aircraft? We'll soon know. We have written about the Massive Penetrator weapon before here and detailed the awesome firepower and effectively infinite range of the US$1.157 billion B-2 here. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions through previously impenetrable defenses. The B-2’s low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency, large payload and an unrefueled range of approximately 6,000 nautical miles (9,600 kilometers) give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets.
Now, in a move that's certain to displease enemies of the state, they're getting the two together - anytime, anywhere and now any depth destruction.
Northrop Grumman, the Air Force's prime contractor on the B-2, is doing the work under a seven-month, $2.5 million contract awarded June 1 by the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
The new Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which is being developed by The Boeing Company, is a GPS-guided weapon containing more than 5,300 pounds of conventional explosives inside a 20.5-foot long enclosure of hardened steel. It is designed to penetrate dirt, rock and reinforced concrete to reach enemy bunker or tunnel installations. The B-2 is capable of carrying two MOPs, one in each weapons bay.
The current contract will focus on adapting the B-2's weapon bay fixtures to accommodate the new weapon. The B-2 is currently equipped to carry up to 40,000 pounds of conventional ordnance. It can be configured, for example, to carry up to 80 500-lb class GPS-guided bombs or 36 750-lb class bombs in its smart bomb rack assembly, or up to 16 2,000-lb class weapons in its rotary launch assembly.
Integration of the MOP on the B-2 is the latest in a series of modernization programs including:
• A "smart" bomb rack assembly that allows the aircraft to deliver 80 independently-targeted, 500-lb. smart weapons, five times more than previously. • Application of a specially formulated surface coating that has significantly reduced B-2 maintenance time and improved operational readiness. • Installation of a line-of-sight tactical communications system that improves B-2 pilots' ability to share critical targeting and threat information and maintain real-time awareness of the battlespace. • Installation of an advanced electronically scanned array antenna designed to enable more advanced imaging capabilities in the future.
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber remains the only long-range, large-payload aircraft that can penetrate deeply into protected airspace.