The Air Force plans to test the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, its 30,000–pound, next-generation bunker buster, from the B-52 bomber later this year or in Fiscal 2009, says a USAF spokesman. Maj. David Small tells the Daily Report that these flight tests will culminate the MOP advanced concept technology demonstration begun in 2004 by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Last year, DTRA validated the lethality of the weapon during a ground test in a tunnel facility. The MOP carries about 5,300 pounds of explosives and is designed to destroy heavily reinforced underground facilities. It features GPS-aided navigation. On a separate but parallel track, USAF has started the process of integrating the bunker-busting behemoth on the B-2 bomber, using funds added by Congress to the Air Force’s budget specifically for that purpose. Congress provided $5.6 million in Fiscal 2007 and $10 million in this fiscal year to begin these integration activities. Those dollars will cover the initial development of the interface control document, suspension and release equipment, and the design of the aircraft-to-weapon interface, Smart says. However, they are not enough to complete the full design, development, test, and integration efforts needed for the entire Spirit fleet, he says. In December 2007, Air Force and industry engineers successfully fit a mock-up of the MOP in a mock-up of the B-2’s internal weapons bay.
Non-mission essential personnel have been ordered to evacuate MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., by noon of Sept. 27, as Hurricane Ian gathers strength and threatens to hit Florida later this week.