The Biggest Non-Nuclear Bomb in the World Just Got a Serious Upgrade
The GBU-57, the largest conventional bomb on the planet, is set to get some significant upgrades according to an announcement by the Air Force. Designed to be a “bunker buster,” the GBU-57 outweighs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the improvements will reportedly increase the bomb’s capabilities, allowing it to more effectively penetrate concrete structures.
Officially called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, the GBU-57 was originally designed for use against hardened concrete structures, especially facilities located underground.
According to Popular Mechanics, the MOP measures 20.5 feet in length and has a diameter of 31.5 inches, weighing an astonishing 30,000 lbs. They are traditionally carried by B-2 Spirit bombers, which are capable of holding two GBU-57s at once, and use GPS navigation to reach its target.
The steel casing of the GBU-57 allows the bomb to penetrate 200 feet of concrete that has been reinforced at 5,000 pounds per square inch, or PSI. Only 6,000 lbs. of the MOP’s total weight is attributed to explosives.
While the precise nature of the updates has not been disclosed, a statement made by the US Air Force says the upgrades “improved the performance against hard and deeply buried targets.” This suggests that the weapon can now reach depths beyond 200 feet, carries a larger payload or more effective payload, or both.
An exercise involving several B-2 Spirit bombers reportedly took place in October 2017, where the aircraft were said to be practicing targeting “a command post, possible DPRK leadership relocation site.”
North Korea uses somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 underground facilities throughout the country, some of which would likely house North Korean leaders, such as Kim Jong-Un, in the event of war.
There are other incredibly large bombs out in the world as well. The GBU-43/B, referred to as the “Mother of All Bombs,” weight in at 21,000 lbs., 18,700 lbs. of which is attributed to the warhead.
Russia also produced a bomb, called the “Father of All Bombs,” that weighs in at 22,000 pounds.