A Bomb For the Ages

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) is a relatively small purchase for the Department of Defense, totalling barely $75 million dollars, and the likelihood is that the weapon itself isn't being developed for actual use--it is being developed to be held out as an example of what the United States could do to a rogue state.
The Pentagon is speeding up delivery of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.
Call it Plan B for dealing with Iran, which recently revealed a long-suspected nuclear site deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.
The 15-ton behemoth - called the "massive ordnance penetrator," or MOP - will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives. The bomb is about 10 times more powerful than the weapon it is designed to replace.

 The Pentagon has awarded a nearly $52 million contract to speed up placement of the bomb aboard the B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials say the bomb could be fielded as soon as next summer.
Pentagon officials acknowledge that the new bomb is intended to blow up fortified sites like those used by Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, but they deny there is a specific target in mind.
"I don't think anybody can divine potential targets," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. "This is just a capability that we think is necessary given the world we live in."


The Obama administration has struggled to counter suspicions lingering from George W. Bush's presidency that the United States is either planning to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities itself or would look the other way if Israel did the same.

Without a sure-fire weapon, there's no reason for anyone to comply. With a heavily-publicized weapon in the arsenal, governments around the world are going to have to rethink how deeply they can bury their secrets and their weapons. You have to grant a sovereign government the right to have secrets; but if the opinion of the U.S., in conjunction with our allies, is that someone needs to be disarmed, there will be talk about this weapon in the future.

I don't think that they are going to build too many of these. The well-publicized timeline of development goes back to 2007, and the Department of Defense has not been shy about pointing out that the thing can burrow deep into steel and rock and deliver a knock-out blow.

The Earth-shattering impact alone would be devastating enough. The political implication or threat of the use of this weapon makes it even more effective. It's a deterrent and a negotiating tool. If they were spending 2 or 3 billion, instead of $75-135 million, then I