The 96th Test Aviation Wing of the United States Air Force has completed a series of tests of the GBU-72 concrete-piercing anti-bunker bomb. It should replace the GBU-28. The bomb weighs 2.3 tons and will be equipped with a JDAM guidance kit.
The US Air Force is testing a promising GBU-72 bomb, which can become a tool for breaking into bunkers that house command centers, underground military complexes and nuclear facilities of a potential enemy. The F-15E Strike Eagle fighter from the 96th Test Aviation Wing (Eglin Air Force Base, Florida) dropped a GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator bomb from a height of 11 kilometers above the range, where the necessary target environment was created.
Representatives of the Eglin base called the test “the largest in history” and “incredibly successful.”
“The GBU-72 bomb is expected to cause significantly more damage to the potential enemy’s buried fortifications than the GBU-28, which it will replace,” said program manager James Calliton.
Both of these bombs are so-called penetrating ammunition “- they are able to” go deep “, reach the target underground and only then explode. The GBU-28 bomb is known to be capable of penetrating more than 30 meters of soil or 6 meters of concrete. During tests at the US Sandia National Laboratories, this bomb was attached to a rocket cart. After dispersal, the ammunition pierced reinforced concrete slabs with a total thickness of 6.7 meters and even retained a sufficient amount of kinetic energy to fly another one and a half kilometers.
GBU-28 also weighs 2.3 tons (although some sources claim that the bomb weighs less – 1.8 tons). Since its adoption, it has been used by the US Air Force to destroy underground bunkers in Iraq.
The exact impact characteristics of the GBU-72 were not reported. They are likely comparable to or more powerful than the GBU-28.
At the same time, the US Air Force command paid special attention to the fact that the new bomb would be much more accurate. It is equipped with a JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), which includes a navigation system and a modified tail assembly. These improvements make it possible to control the bomb in flight. Previously, the maximum weight of bombs using JDAM was 907 kg.
Bombs with JDAM are sent to the target by an integrated inertial guidance system paired with a GPS receiver. Unlike bombs with infrared and laser guidance, their use will not be hindered by unfavorable conditions near the surface of the earth – fog, heavy snowfall, smoke or opacity of the atmosphere due to a sandstorm.
Also, the GBU-72 is equipped with an additional electronic fuse, which ensures blasting at exactly the specified depth after penetration into the ground, rock or concrete.
“Combined with JDAM equipment, which can reduce the circular deviation to a few meters, this allows high accuracy to hit targets previously available only for nuclear weapons,” the US Air Force said in a press release.
The GBU-72 bomb is intended to equip fighters and bombers of the US Air Force, although the leadership of the US Air Force does not specify which specific types of aircraft can be used for combat use of this type of ammunition.
The US Air Force plans to begin purchasing it in 2022. The cost of the first batch of 125 bombs will amount to $ 36 million. It is planned that the entire US Air Force will receive at least 2,000 such bombs. The terms of the full contract have not yet been announced.
“North Korea is one of the possible targets for the use of promising anti-bunker bombs.
This country has underground nuclear production sites, buried fortifications of the DPRK armed forces, facilities where the headquarters of the military and political leadership are located.
This is also true for Iran: this is another likely target for the use of this type of aviation weapons, ”said Michael O’Hanlon, director of research at the Brookings Institution, military expert, to the Air Force Times.
The former Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Mark Welch, spoke much more emotionally to the request of the 19FortyFive portal to comment on the test results. “Dictator Kim [Jong-un] and the Ayatollahs of Iran will not hide from us anywhere else,” he said.