U.S. enemies around the world have dug deep into the earth to hide weapons and harden military targets from attack. So to deal with rogue states who decide to go down under, the U.S. has some developed big, earth-thumping “super bombs,” but none more powerful than this:
Meet the MOP, or Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
Its goal of blasting through 60 feet of concrete with a bomb exploding at 200 feet underground is a tall order. To accomplish that, the school-bus-sized MOP is dropped from a high altitude, and uses a combination of technology and Newton’s laws of physics to punch deep into the earth and obliterate its target.
The MOP is 20 feet in length and weighs 30,000 pounds. In 2007 the MOP was successfully tested, which led the Air Force to order eight of them at a cost of $28 million in April 2011.
Currently, the B-52 can carry and deploy the MOP, but Boeing and Lockheed Martin are both working on a next generation bomber than can replace the B-52 and carry MOP-sized munitions.
The new weapon recently received a special design accolade, as according to Business Insider, manufacturer Boeing has received the William J. Perry award from the Precision Strike Association to honor “one of the Secretary of Defense’s number one weapons programs.”
Interestingly enough, the MOP is part of the U.S.’s military’s move towards a decreased reliance on tactical nuclear weapons. The thinking is if you can get enough explosive yield from a conventional bomb, there is no need to risk the fallout and contamination of a tactical nuclear strike.
While the MOP is an innovative new design, massive aerial bombs of different types have been in use for decades. Some have weighed even more than the MOP, and saw use as far back as World War II.
The Massive Ordinance Aerial Bomb (MOAB), also called the GBU-43B or colloquially the “Mother Of All Bombs,” was used by the U.S. against the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the time of its initial production, it was the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) munition in the U.S. arsenal.
At 30-feet-long and 18,000 pounds, the MOAB could only be delivered by a handful of aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules.
Below is a short clip showing a MOAB detonation:
The BLU-82 “Daisycutter” is a 15,000 lbs. explosive monster that saw use during the Vietnam war, initially to clear the dense undergrowth for a landing field, which is why is was also known as the “jungle buster.” Later in the war, it was also used for anti-personnel and psychological operations effects.
Unlike a penetrator, though, it did not bury itself on impact and in fact left little or no crater upon detonation. Its explosive force was mostly directed laterally, and it was able to clear out vegetation (or anything else) for a 130 foot radius.
And here is the Daisycutter showing what it can do out in the desert:
The T-12 “Cloudmaker” was the first “Super Bomb” developed by the U.S. for use in the mid-1940’s against hardened bunkers and other targets that were invulnerable to conventional bombs.
The Cloudmaker’s extremely thick nose section allowed it to punch deep into hardened concrete structures and then after a short time fuse detonate underground. This created what was called an “earthquake effect.”
At 42,000 pounds, the “Cloudmaker” was the aerial juggernaut of its time, and paved the way for later super bombs and deep penetrators, including today’s high-tech MOP design.
(h/t Business Insider)