Air Force drops new 5,000-pound bunker bomb for the first time

The 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Prepares to drop a GBU-72 advanced 5K penetrating bomb for the first time on October 7, 2021. (Samuel King / US Air Force)

The Air Force tests a gigantic 5,000-pound bomb designed using advanced modeling to increase its impact on reaching and destroying hardened underground facilities like the ballistic missile and nuclear weapons facilities of North Korea.

An F-15E attack fighter conducted a series of three tests on Thursday with the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator dropped 35,000 feet above the range of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. ‘Air Force in a press release.

The series, planned by the 780th Test Squadron and carried out by the 40th Flight Test Squadron, began on July 23 and marked the first time the 2.5-ton bomb had been loaded, flown and dropped, said the Air Force.

Tests successfully showed that the weapon could be safely released from the jet which had been modified from its usual capacity to carry a 2,000 pound bomb to a 5,000 pound bomb, the Air Force said.

The GBU-72 was also tested in a series of ground detonations at Eglin, the largest such “open-air” test ever held within range of the base, the air force said. .

The warhead was surrounded by blast pressure sensors and equipment used to count the fragments, measures designed to determine the lethality of the bomb, the Air Force said.

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 40th Flight Test Squadron drops a GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator on the beach at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., October 7, 2021.

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 40th Flight Test Squadron drops a GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator on the range at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., October 7, 2021 (Samuel King / US Air Strength)

A GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator bomb is dropped for the first time on the range at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. On October 7, 2021.

A GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator is dropped for the first time on the range at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. On October 7, 2021. (Samuel King / US Air Force)

The GBU-72 was developed using advanced modeling and simulation techniques that dramatically increase its lethality compared to the GBU-28, a decades-old 5,000-pound bunker bomb, the Air said. Strength.

The GBU-28 was first used in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and again during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The GBU-72 and 28 are eclipsed by the Air Force’s 30,000-pound GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, which can only be carried by forward bombers.

One of the advantages of the modeling and simulation process used in the design of the GBU-72 is that the first prototype represents what the actual hardware and software would be like when mass produced for the field, James Culliton, Director program for GBU-72, said in the statement. “It helps us bring our operational test partners earlier with hands-on, hands-on participation, to validate our design and procedures earlier while including information that improves the weapon.”

The GBU-72 is expected to begin operational tests next year, the Air Force said.

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