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WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) - The United States plans to develop an experimental 30,000-pound (13,600 kg) bomb, the biggest in its inventory, aimed at destroying deeply buried targets beyond the reach of existing bombs, the Air Force said on Friday.
The Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, would be about one-third heavier than the 21,000-pound Massive Ordnance Air Blast, MOAB, dropped twice last year in "live" tests at a range in Florida.
Swinson said the mammoth bomb may be designed to fit in the bomb bay of Northrop Grumman Corp.'s batwing B-2 radar-evading bomber as well as the Boeing B-52 bomber.
The Boeing Co. has been tapped to design and test the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a large bomb designed to penetrate and destroy hardened and deeply buried targets.
The Defense Department announced late Nov. 1 that the Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a $20 million, multi-year contract to Boeing for the MOP program, which is funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The initial increment of $500,000 is for work that is to be completed by February 2005.
The Air Force has said that MOP would be guided, weigh up to 30,000 pounds and be carried internally on the B-2 and B-52 bombers. The weapon would be used to destroy multi-story buildings with hardened bunkers and tunnels, targets believed to be proliferating in rogue states.
The Air Force had issued a broad agency announcement seeking proposals for MOP. The new effort is supposed to build on an earlier phase that aimed to perform such activities for MOP as defining the guidance kit packaging and assessing the potential to integrate the bomb onto the B-2 and B-52.