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Eglin Studying Massive 30,000-Pound b*mb

b*mb Would Be 40 Percent Bigger Than MOAB

POSTED: 1:01 pm EST November 8, 2004

UPDATED: 1:13 pm EST November 8, 2004

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force built a weapon so big it was nicknamed "Mother of All Bombs" on the eve of the war with Iraq, but MOAB would be dwarfed by a much larger munition now under study.

The proposed Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, would weigh 30,000 pounds, nearly 40 percent more than the 21,000 pound MOAB -- officially Massive Ordnance Air Blast -- that never saw combat.

"The reason it's heavier than MOAB is that it has to penetrate a target," said Fred Davis, technical director for assessment and demonstrations at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Munitions Directorate.

MOP would be designed to explode deep in the ground or inside a structure to destroy tunnels and bunkers or topple tall buildings.

MOAB, on the other hand, explodes just above the ground. It is a larger version of the BLU-84 "Daisy Cutter" that was used during the Vietnam War to blast out helicopter landing zones in jungle areas.

The 15,000-pound Daisy Cutter also was dropped during the 1991 Persian Gulf War to clear minefields and more recently to blast caves believed to be hiding terrorists in Afghanistan.

MOAB can be against similar targets and structures or vehicles susceptible to surface blast damage. Both also are seen as psychological weapons that can demoralize an enemy.

During the next 16 months the Munitions Directorate at this Florida Panhandle base will look at everything from MOP's shape to its guidance. The Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency is providing $500,000 in initial research money.

If the project gets beyond the initial research and development phase, MOP probably won't see its first armed drop until 2006 or later.

MOP would have inertial and satellite guidance, just like MOAB, but it would have a more slender shape so it could be dropped from high altitude by a B-52 or a B-2 stealth bomber.

The Daisy Cutter and MOAB are too bulky to be carried by sleek bombers and must be pushed out of the rear door of lower-flying and slower cargo planes.

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