US Air Force tests new 5000-pound GBU-72 bunker bomb

Most often when talking about bunker bombs, reference is made to the famous GBU-43 / B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb of 22.000 pounds, sometimes called MOAB for Mother of All Bomb, and made famous for their use against cave networks in Afghanistan, as well as the 57-pound GBU-30.000A / B Massive Ordnance Penetrator designed to equip B-2 bombers. But these munitions are both very expensive to build and complex to use, the MOAB being able, for example, to be released only from a C-130 transport aircraft. While the risks of having to intervene against strongly defended targets continue to increase, it became urgent for the US Air Force to develop a new munition capable of destroying strongly hardened bunkers, and which could be used from a combat aircraft with chances of surviving this environment.

This is precisely the role of the new GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator, a 5000 pound (2.268 kg) bomb equipped with an inertial and satellite JDAM guidance system, and designed to strike its target with great precision in order to destroy the best protected bunkers, and that can be implemented by an F15E Strike Eagle fighter. Duringa test campaign that took place earlier this year, one of these aircraft belonging to the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, dropped this bomb for the first time from an altitude of 35.000 feet against a target clad with sensors, to assess its accuracy and potential damage on a strongly hardened target. According to the US Air Force, this new ammunition, which must be ordered in 2022 at 125 units for $ 36 million, is suitable, if necessary, to strike and destroy North Korean or Iranian bunkers, in particular installations housing ballistic missiles. from both countries.

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The Eglin test area was lined with sensors to assess the accuracy and penetration and destruction capabilities of the BGU-72 during the test.

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