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Nov. 16, 2011—The Air Force's new bunker-busting behemoth, the aptly named Massive Ordnance Penetrator, is now available for combat on the B-2 stealth bomber, according to service officials.

Whiteman AFB, Mo., home of the B-2 fleet, received its first batch of MOPs in September, and the bombs are "ready for operational use," an acquisition official in the Air Force's global power programs directorate told the Daily Report in a written response to a query.

The 30,000-pound-class conventional weapon, when coupled with the stealthy, penetrating B-2, gives US planners a potent means of attacking the most challenging types of hardened and underground targets. These targets have been heretofore difficult, if not impossible, to reach with other bunker busters due to the targets' depth beneath the surface and the type of protective layers covering them.

"MOP is a great capability," said Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, who oversees the B-2 fleet as the 509th Bomb Wing commander at Whiteman, in an interview earlier this month. There is "no other weapon that can get after those hard and deeply buried targets like MOP can."

Vander Hamm said MOP "is specifically designed to go after very dense targets—solid granite, 20,000 [pounds per square inch] concrete, and those hard and deeply buried complexes—where enemies are putting things that the President of the United States wants to hold at risk."

He said MOP "kind of bridges the gap" between conventional munitions and nuclear weapons in terms of the effects that it can create. Whereas in the past, "you'd have to break that nuclear threshold" to attack such HDBTs, "with the MOP, you don't have to," he said.

The B-2-MOP pairing is causing potential adversaries to take "a close look at their whole philosophy on their use of weapons and how to defend against these platforms," he noted.

While MOP flight testing also occurred on the B-52, "this weapon is only carried by the B-2" operationally, said Vander Hamm.

The Air Force and Defense Threat Reduction Agency developed MOP in response to an urgent request from US Central Command.

Vander Hamm said MOP flight testing yielded "some great results."

The plus-sized bomb, built by Boeing, features a casing of about 20,000 pounds, a tail kit of roughly 2,500 pounds, and approximately 5,700 pounds of high explosive in its warhead, said Vander Hamm.