In the face of possible military intervention in Syria and a strike against Iran, the United States has announced that its largest bunker-buster missile capable of penetrating underground facilities is operational and ready for use if needed.
Called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), the 30,000-pound bomb – which contains over 5,000 pounds of explosives – was originally designed to take out hardened fortifications in Iran and North Korea.
The announcement that it is operational comes at a time that the western world is increasingly concerned over the potential proliferation of Syria’s chemical weapons to Hezbollah.
“If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do that,” United States Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the Air Force Times this week.
“We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing. We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today.”
Donley’s announcement that the MOP is operational comes after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that the bomb had shortcomings against some of Iran’s deep bunker facilities. According to the report, the Pentagon has spent over $300 million to develop the bomb, which is made by Boeing.
Israel has closely followed the development of the MOP, also known as the GBU-57. The MOP is said to be able to penetrate around 60 meters. It is unclear, however, how Israel would deploy such a bomb which would not fit onto its current fleet of combat aircraft. The US Air Force intends to deploy the MOP on B-2 bombers which can carry a far larger payload than the Israel Air Force’s F- 15s and F-16s.