Very big bombs -- like the 10-ton Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) and the 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) -- are back in style after about a 60-year hiatus.
Not since the days of Barnes Wallis and his famous Grand Slam have munitions makers been so focused on things that go boom, sans mushroom cloud.
Alas, it's going to be a while before anybody knows whether the MOP actually works, since the first drop test has been delayed 10 months to June. (Ironically, the flight test for the 787 -- a very different aerodynamic specimen also made by Boeing -- was delayed by the same margin.)
Anyway, here's my story on FlightGlobal.com.
The programme has slipped because of technical problems with a "common carriage" bomb-release rack, says Davis. The undisclosed difficulties have forced the AFRL to design a new bomb rack for the MOP.
Development of the weapon's components, including guidance system, control surfaces, fuses and arming device, remain on track, says Davis. AFRL has increased the test programme's budget to $30 million - a $10 million jump - to cover development of the unique bomb rack.
It is not clear how the delays will affect the timetable for the US Air Forces's plan to integrate the same weapon on the Northrop Grumman B-2. US Congress has blocked the funding request to integrate the MOP into the B-2.