Via the NIAC:
Washington DC – Buried in the $196.4 billion supplemental war spending proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on October 22 is a request for $88 million to modify B-2 jets to carry 30,000-pound bombs, or “bunker busters.”
The Pentagon program would arm the B-2 stealth bomber with the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a conventional bomb for destroying targets deep underground. The GPS-guided weapon, which is still in development, is designed to destroy heavily fortified or buried targets such as caves, tunnels and bunkers.
The administration posited the $88 million request as “in response to an urgent operational need from theater commanders.” Military officials refuse to elaborate. However, military analysts speculate that the weapon is intended for use on Iran’s heavily fortified underground nuclear facility in Natanz.
The Air Force and the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency began commissioning Northrop Grumman and Boeing to develop the weapon in 2004. Flight tests started this September at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, according to the Military Times.
The bomb measures more than 20 feet long and 31½ inches in diameter. It is cast from 3½-inch-thick high-performance steel which is packed with 5,500 pounds of explosives. The remaining 24,500 pounds of steel, says the Military Times, “gives it the heft to burrow into a target.”
Rejecting the claim that weapon is intended for use in Iraq or Afghanistan, Congressman James P. Moran, (D-VA), pointed to Iran as the most likely target for the bomb. Moran, a senior member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, promised to oppose the funding. “That’s a clear red flag,” Moran said.
Congressman Jim McDermott, (D-WA) said the request was just the latest in a stream of signals that the Administration is considering an attack on Iran.
Meanwhile, the British press has reported that the US has been secretly upgrading B1 Spirit jet bomber hangars on the British protectorate of Diego Garcia, an atoll located about 1000 miles from the southern coasts of India and Sri Lanka.
The island is home to 50 British and 3200 US military personnel and serves as a launching point for US Air Force bombers and Awacs surveillance planes for missions in the Middle East. It was used for strategic strike missions against Iraq in the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars.
McDermott called a potential US bombing campaign his “biggest fear between now and the election,” according to CQ Today. “We are not authorizing Bush to use a 30,000-pound bunker buster,” he said. “They’ve been banging the drums the same way as they did in 2002 with Iraq.”
Irancove @ November 8, 2007