NOW THIS IS A BOMB
THE US AIR FORCE 30,000 POUND GBU-57 BOMB
The following description is from the commendable Defense Industry Daily. This publication virtually always provides background and context—a practice I wish more of the U.S. media would follow.
Terrorists, for instance, don’t do what they do without good reason. Their actions may be wrong—but most terrorists think they have a valid grievance. Many do. You can debate the validity, but you need to understand it.
You desperately need to understand it. That way lies peace. The alternative is either systematic extermination or military genius—and the latter is in short supply. Typically, it is strangled by its own side. Competence truly hates genius.
I first became intrigued by military matters through reading adventure stories while at boarding school—and it didn’t hurt that I was a war baby. I hated boarding school. Adventure stories were my escape. It was wonderful.
I was born on May 23 1944 in London. D-Day happened two weeks later.
I grew up fast, was in the first wave when we landed in Normandy on June 6 1944, and conquered France personally. I also saved Private Ryan. Patton stole the credit. Spielberg got the story wrong.
Hitler didn’t commit suicide. I shot him.
I sometimes joke that, “Hitler tried to kill me,” because, so I was told, a German missile—a V-1 rocket commonly called a ‘Doodlebug,’ explored nearby when I only a couple of months old, and glass from the blast showered my cot.
Yes, when I was old enough, I did ask whether the windows were taped. Apparently they were—but it was a major blast.
Damn cheek! It’s a hell of thing to be a combat veteran before you can even legally drink. Lot of catching-up to do.
Why was my mother in London, one of Hitler’s favorite targets? She was Irish (Anglo-Irish). She should have been in Ireland. That country—quite sensibly—was neutral during the war. After 700 years of occupation, it had no reason to like the British—but Hitler? Good grief!
Bear in mind, there wasn’t just one Blitz—there were two. The destruction defies the imagination. Both were bloody.
The first, towards the beginning of the war, in 1940, was bombing based. The second, in 1944, involved missiles. London, in particular, was a battle-zone. Tens of thousands were killed. Hundreds of thousands were injured.
Because there were men there—in profusion. All in all, mother had a very good war. She liked men—and they liked her. And since men didn’t disappear, she went on to have a very good peace. Twelve children. Five fathers. Three marriages. Well, that is the official story. It was much more complicated than that.
I have no reason to complain. Without the war, I wouldn’t have existed. Well, given my mother’s proclivities, clearly someone would have existed—but it wouldn’t have been me.
Was it staged for my benefit personally? To be frank with you—I can’t be sure about that.
Be that as it may, I still keep an eye on military developments nearly three-quarters of a century later. I guess you could say I have learned more than a bit over that time. I distrust the word ‘expert.’
I am appalled by the consequences of war, and loathe the waste and the destruction, but somehow the whole damn business is in my blood—which is why I write about it.
I don’t think either war or combat are glorious. I do think they are sometimes necessary. I respect those at the sharp end of the spear. Most are very ordinary people who are forced to try and do extraordinary things. Sometimes, they do just that. Often, they just muddle through.
I find the latter fairly remarkable just in itself.
I am not sure that makes a great deal of sense—but then neither does the human condition in many ways.
Do we work as hard as we could, and should, to avoid war? Not even close. On the contrary, despite the evidence of history—and just plain commonsense—we seem almost to rush into it.
It strikes me that this is particularly the case with the U.S. This is a nation which is culturally violent—and politically inadequate.
We need to think about this stuff a great deal more than we do.
This 30,000 pound weapon is approximately 31.5 inches in diameter and 20.5 feet long, with about the same amount of explosives inside as Wallis’ Tallboy (5,300 pounds).
It isn’t the biggest bomb the USA has ever built – the 44,000 pound T12 has that distinction – but it could well become the biggest conventional bomb ever used. Even the famous GBU-43 MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs) thermobaric weapon weighs in at only 21,000 pounds.
Unlike the MOAB, however, this project’s goal is a GPS-guided, hard-penetrating weapon that can be carried aboard B-2A Spirit bombers to defeat “a specialized set of hard and deeply buried targets” like bunkers and tunnel facilities. Some graphics show expectations of over 60 feet of concrete destroyed, and a USAF article stated that the bomb was meant to penetrate 200 feet underground before exploding.
That may have been revised upward in the 2012 upgrade, which tried to address perceived shortfalls against known targets. Upgrades reportedly include more precise guidance through undisclosed means, adjustment of the detonator fuze to withstand impact with layers of granite and steel, and the ability to reject guidance-jamming attempts and operate in “contested environments.”
About 8 operational GBU-57s have been publicly ordered to date, and a number of bomb bodies and flight test weapons have been detonated in tests.
The B-2A will be able to carry 2 MOPs: one in each bay, mounted to the existing forward and aft mounting hardware.