- Bunker buster
A bunker buster is a
bombdesigned to penetrate hardened targets or targets buried deep underground.
Aircraft delivered bombs
World War II
World War IIthe British designer Barnes Wallisof Bouncing bombfame, designed two bombs that would today be called bunker busters: the five tonneTallboy and the ten tonne Grand Slam "Earthquake" bombs. The designs were very aerodynamic with a tail which caused them to spin. This allowed them to break the sound barrier as they fell from a height of 22,000 ft (6,700 m). They had casings made of high grade steel, much stronger than the typical World War II bomb so that they would survive hitting a hardened surface, or penetrate deep into the ground.
Though these bombs might be thought of as 'bunker busters' today, in fact the original 'earthquake' theory was more complex and subtle than simply penetrating a hardened surface. The Earthquake bombs were designed not to strike a target directly, but to impact beside it, penetrate under it, and create a '
camouflet' or large buried cavern at the same time as delivering a shock wave through the target's foundations. The target then collapses into the hole, no matter how hardened it may be. The bombs had strong casings because they needed to travel through rock rather than reinforced concrete, though they could perform equally well against hardened surfaces. In an attack on the U-boat pens at Fargetwo Grand Slams went through the 15 ft (4.5 m) reinforced concrete hardening [ [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/grandslam.html Bomber Command] Official RAF History website ] — equalling or exceeding the best current penetration specifications.
Post war the U.S. added a form of remote control guidance to the Tallboy to create the "Tarzon", a 12,000-pound bomb which was deployed in the
Korean Waragainst an underground command center near Kanggye.
The "Disney" Rocket-Assisted Bomb was another World War II device to be used against U-boat pens and other super-hardened targets. Designed by a Royal Navy Captain, it had a streamlined hardened case bomb weighing some 4,500 lb (2 tonnes). The bomb was dropped from 20,000 ft (~6,000 m). At 5,000 ft (~1,500 m) a
barometricfuse fired the rocket in the tail to give it a velocity at impact of up to 2,400 ft/second (730 m/s). It was first used by the 92nd Bomb Group on 10 February 1945on U-boat pens at IJmuidenin The Netherlands.- one bomb under each wing of 9 B-17 Flying Fortress. On that occasion a single direct hit was scored. A total of 158 "Disney Bombs" were used operationally by the end of hostilities in Europe.
Operation Desert Storm(1991) there was a need for deep penetration bomb similar to the British weapons of World War II, but none of the NATO air forces had such a weapon, though the RAF possesses several of Barnes Wallis' bombs as museum pieces. As a stop-gap, some were developed rapidly over a period of 28 days, using old 8 inch (203 mm) artillery barrels as casings. These bombs weighed over two tons but carried only 647 lb of high explosive. They were laser-guided and were designated "Guided Bomb Unit-28 ( GBU-28)", and worked very effectively.
More recently the US has developed a series of custom made bombs to penetrate hardened or deeply buried structures:
The traditional fuse is the same as a classic
armor-piercing bomb: a combination of timer and a sturdy dynamic propeller on the rear of the bomb. The fuse is armed when the bomb is released, and detonates when the propeller stops turning and the timer has expired.
Modern bunker busters may use the traditional fuse, but some also include a
microphoneand micro controller. The microphone listens, and the micro controller counts floors until the bomb breaks through the desired numbers of floors.
The extra speed provided by a rocket motor enables greater penetration of a missile-mounted bunker buster warhead. To reach maximum penetration (
Impact depth), the warhead may consist of a high density projectile only. Such a warhead carries more energy than a warhead with chemical explosives (kinetic energy of a projectile at hypervelocity).
Halts in production
McAlester, Oklahomaproduction plant for the U.S. Militaryhalted the production of 2,000 pound (900 kg) bunker buster bombs on two occasions. The first, on February 8, 2005, revealed that 17 employees who made the weapons had low blood oxygen levels because of their exposure to trinitrotoluene(TNT). Later in August, 34 workers were also found to be anemic. Production restarted on January 1, 2005after a new ventilation system was installed, but halted again on March 2of the same year when blood tests confirmed continued adverse effects to employee health from TNT exposure. [http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1896&e=4&u=/nm/health_bombs_dc]
* [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/gbu-28.htm Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) BLU-113 Penetrator]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2970205.stm BBC: 'Bunker buster' missiles aim at Moon]
* [http://alsos.wlu.edu/adv_rst.aspx?query=bunker+buster&selection=keyword&source=all&results=10 Annotated bibliography for nuclear bunker buster bombs from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues]
* [http://digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/search.tkl?q=%22bunker+busters%22&search_crit=fulltext&search=Search&date1=Anytime&date2=Anytime&type=form Read Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding Bunker Busters]
* [http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/nuclear_weapons/nuclear-bunker-buster-rnep-animation.html Video against usage (produced by Union of Concerned Scientists)]
Other external links
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=XbtzpqZOtB8 Video of bunker buster bomb in action]
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