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It has numerous other advantages. One is a thinner casing which means more payload. Another is that it does not undergo a shattering 10,000g impact. Other penetrating bombs need special insensitive explosives; Deep Digger can carry a range of warheads, as well as sensors and communications. It can stay in touch with the launch aircraft and report its progress; multiple Deep Diggers could be co-ordinated to detonate simultaneously producing a combined shockwave.
I’ve described Deep Digger here previously. Unlike earlier weapons this is an active penetrator, a bomb that actually burrows into the ground by drilling a shaft with volleys from seven cannon. In a demonstration last year a Deep Digger prototype penetrated more than 30 feet of limestone. The makers were tight-lipped about how much further it could go.
This presentation from David Burns of the Medium Caliber Weapons Systems Branch of ARDEC reveals much more about the weapon than previously released. In particular, it is described as being able to dig down to 150 feet. That’s impressive on its own, but the ‘Concept Of Operations’ in Slide 4 is staggering: an array of 20 Deep Diggers would be detonated together to produce a shockwave which will collapse all underground structures to a depth of 300 feet over a 200-yard square area.
Underground and Deep Underground Structures
The committee has recommended the use of $4.5 million available in the counterproliferation support program ($1.5 million in fiscal year 1996 and $3.0 million in fiscal year 1997) for the exploration of a `deep digger' concept for hard target characterization. The committee continues to support efforts by the Department to focus its research and development efforts aggressively on programs to detect and discriminately attack and destroy underground facilities. The committee continues to believe the `deep digger' concept could possibly address a critical gap in our armed forces' capabilities. The committee understands that only a small portion of funds has been released to conduct a feasibility study for theoretical validation of the program. `Deep digger' has the potential for use in a variety of missions, because it could be delivered either by ground forces or by aircraft. The committee directs the Department to report to the committee by October 31, 1997, on the status of the program.