In March President Barack Obama reportedly offeredIsrael bunker-buster bombs and other advanced weapons in exchange for a postponing an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities until 2013.
At the time the White House denied that any such agreement was proposed or reached.
Bunker-busters are essential for an attack on Iran’s underground nuclear facilitiessince they can penetrate Tehran’s world renowned reinforced concrete.
This week the U.S. Department of Defense notified Congress of a $647 million agreement to provide the Israel Air Force with 10,000 bombs — more than half of which are bunker-busters — along with 6,900joint direct attack munitions (JDAM) tail kits, which convert unguided free-fall bombs into satellite-guided “smart” weapons.
Haaretz reported that the deal would serve to “renew the inventory of the Israel Defense Forces following the massive bombings in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense,” and no doubt it will, but this is a pretty spectacular array of ordnance well beyond what Israel against Gaza last month.
Israel flew about 1,500 aerial bomb attacks in Operation Pillar of Defense, and reports on Twitter of bunker-busters came only sporadically in the latter half of the eight-day campaign. (Israel dropped Israeli-made bunker-busters on Gaza in ’08 as well.)
And the last time the U.S. sent Israel bunker-busters, in 2009, the sale included 55 GBU-28Hard Target Penetrators. This time around the U.S. is providing 1,725 BLU-109 and 3,450 GBU-39 bunker-buster bombs.
Last year The New York Times reported the U.S. refrained from sending the massive munitions before 2009 because “there were deep concerns that if the United States supplied bunker-busting bombs to Israel, it might be viewed as having tacitly endorsed an attack on Iran.”
The only weapon that can reach it is America’s biggest bomb, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). MOPs, each packing 5,300 pounds of explosives, are capable ofpenetrating 60 feet of reinforced concrete and detonating at more than 200 feet below ground.
In February Congress approved $82 million to upgrade the 30,000 pound bomb, and in August the Air Force reported it was upgrading on its B-1B “Lancer” multi-mission bomber. Both are scheduled to be complete in 2013.
Iran Says America’s Bunker-Buster Bomb Could Set Off A Global Conflict
Following last week’s announcement from the U.S. Air Force that its 30,000 pound bunker-buster bomb, theMassive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), was ready for action, Iran’s state-owned media outletPressTV has published an angry reply.
This week, a threat against Iran by the United States was published by the UK Telegraph. Peter Foster, of their Washington Bureau met with Mike Donnelly, US Air Force Secretary to question him about deployment of experimental “bunker buster” bombs…He has no combat experience and cannot fly an airplane. He is a perfect choice to run an Air force.
The dogging of Donnelly’s lack of combat aviation experience kind of sums up the tone for the rest of the very long post.
From there it calls the MOP’s cost, effectiveness, and delivery into question:
[The Massive Ordnance Penetrator] has never been successfully tested. Essentially, it is an 8” cannon barrel filled with high explosives hoped to be dropped from the B2 Stealth Bomber. Each B2 costs $2.1 billion dollars not to mention the $300 billion in design costs.
It then goes on to to say there are concerns that dropping a “defective bomb on non-existent targets without rationale or legal authority” raises concerns.
From there PressTV mentions it’s also hoped, presumably by the U.S., that Iran has not modified its air defense like Serbia did in the ’90s — a move that allowed it to shoot down “several” American stealth planes. The reference must be to the F-177A taken down down over Serbia in 1999.
The post then changes the MOP to MOb and says every member of Congress involved in the MOP project “have accepted large campaign contributions from Israeli sources in the past few months and are expecting more.”
The response is fascinating, and confusing in equal measure, but well worth checking out.
The MOP was sent back to Boeing at the beginning of the year for modifications that would allow it to penetrate what was believed to be Iran’s deep nuclear facilities.
Though still undergoing enhancements and modifications the Air Force says the bomb is ready to take out whatever targets it has in mind.
It appears Iran is convinced those targets may be Tehran’s alleged nuclear facilities.