back to article Nuke-bunker-nobbling US megabomb delayed

Efforts by the US military to equip the batwinged B-2 "Spirit" Stealth bomber with a huge penetrator weapon - suitable for use against underground Iranian nuclear facilities - have been delayed. B2 stealth bomber Flying the unfriendly skies in 2011? The Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) is a huge, 14-tonne steel pencil …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was assuming Israel was waiting until Western forces leave Iraq so as to give the Americans plausible deniability of any raid on Iran's nuclear facilities. They have bought a substantial number of bunker busters from the Americans in recent years - it seems unlikely that these would be needed against the Palestinians or Hezbollah.

    Haven't the Iranians now gone to the Chinese for their air defence, since the Russians hesitated in delivering S300s? In any case, the S300s didn't help Syria at all when Israel bombed that "agricultural research facility" in the desert, along with the North Korean scientists working there.

  2. exit...quit...bye...quitbye.ctrl-C..ctrlX.ctrl-alt-X...aarrrr*slam*

    I think I´ll kick that guy down the street.

    I think I´ll give that guy down the street a good kick in the nuts - though he claims he just wants to cut some bread, he might be trying to get a knife to stab someone else in my street. Even if he wants the knife to have equal arms with me and my gang, but I´d feel safer if I kicked him. After all, he refuses to let me search each part of his house twice...

    Sounds odd?

    Sounds like US foreign "politics" to me.

    flame me, transatlantics.

    1. SuperTim

      now then,

      Can you not see that the international community does not want a nuclear armed crazed fanatic state, as they are likely to start wars all over the place.....

      They already have one of them!

      1. Rotate anti-clockwise ...


        " of them" ?

        Which armed fanatic state are you referring to ... I can think of at least three, only one of which is in the Middle East!

        Ooops! I nearly forgot about the lapdog state which is also nuclear-armed!

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Last I heard Australia has no nuclear weapons...

        2. Keith T

          Which nuclear armed fanatic state?

          It must be one of the two nuclear-armed countries with histories of being run by religious fanatics and engaging in unprovoked Pearl Harbour type pre-emptive attacks.

        3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Slight inaccuracy...

          "..Which armed fanatic state are you referring to ... I can think of at least three, only one of which is in the Middle East!

          Ooops! I nearly forgot about the lapdog state which is also nuclear-armed!.."

          Umm... Armed, we may be. State we may be (though I think Kingdom is a more accurate word) But fanatic? Gordon Brown? Lui?

      2. Alan Firminger


        Yes two.

    2. GeorgeTuk


      I like your tidy analogy of whats going on but if that guy in the street is harbouring a weapon that will wipe out the neighbourhood then its a bit different.

      And anyway it's only Iran not letting anyone in, all the other countries with nuclear programs (for domestic or weaponised use) let the UN bodies in to see whats going on. But only Iran seem to think it's not apporopriate and then surprised when everyone thinks they might be concealing something.

      Not saying it should be tackled with force but you have to understand that the other countries just want to know that Iran is playing on the same field as the others.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


        >And anyway it's only Iran not letting anyone in,

        Wrong. IAEA has access to any facilities they deem necessary to inspect under NPT regulations.

        > all the other countries with nuclear programs (for domestic or weaponised use) let the UN bodies in

        Wrong. Pakistan and India, both non-signatories to the NPT, have nukes and let nobody in. Except maybe the Americans when they are waiting for a cheque.

        > But only Iran seem to think it's not apporopriate and then surprised when everyone thinks they might be concealing something.

        Really. Anyone not under the thumb of the media, for which Iran was going to have a nuclear device next week for the last ten years would have some difficulty believing the constant brouhaha is anything else than the "West" looking for regime change and making the world safe for Israel.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        all the other countries?

        Including Israel? I think not.

        1. GeorgeTuk

          Fair enough...

          ...I stand corrected!

          Apologies for the inaccuracies.

      3. b 3

        apart from israel?

        when did israel let any one in?


    3. Robert Hill


      I'll flame you from the UK - the US has proven itself as the only country to ever use nuclear weapons, and then work like hell to ensure that they have never been used again. Sometimes they did that by counterforce (i.e., Mutual Assured Destruction), but many times by negotiation (START, SALT, et al). They have also proven that they can keep thousands of nuclear weapons safe and secure, of all types and sizes - OK, I'll give you the few that crashed in bomber accidents, but they were accidents with NO explosions due to highly-engineered deadlocks and safeties. Operationally, the US armed forces have rung up a spectacular record of nuclear safety - and one that few other countries can even try to match due to the resources and costs involved.

      If you can think of a country that has proven itself more capable of storing and handling nuclear weapons, and has worked harder via negotiations to reduce them, let us know...the US has taken more weapons out of service via negotiations than all other countries except Russia have ever owned in total.

      In large part, the whole Afghanistan fiasco is driven by the fact that the US did not take the easy route on 9/12/2001, and simply put three tactical nukes on Saddam's suspected hideouts in Afghanistan...because

      1. TimeMaster T


        Saddam had nothing to do with the attacks on 9-11-2001

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you a total moron?

      Does the guy down the street cutting bread say things like you're the Great Satan and you should be destroyed (oh and btw, does he include your friend Great Britain in that threat)?

      If he did--he'd be quickly locked up as a loon!

      I didn't see anybody claiming that India ahould be bombed because they were developing nukes. Maybe it was because they haven't declared to the world that they want to destroy all of Western Civilization, that the Holocaus is a myth contrived by the US, the UK, and Isreal, and that Israel should be wiped from the map and all Jews exterminated.

      Yeah, I don't have a problem with preventing nut-jobs like that from having nukes! or whack-tards like you from controlling the foreign policies of Western nations.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I am usually against weapons in space

    A weapon in this class launched from space is probably the real "best of all worsts". The impact speed can be way into the hypersonic range so it does not even need a warhead. Just the impact of several tons flying at 7Mach is more than enough to crack any bunker (or its access tunnels). We will probably end up having to design one soon.

    It is also scary how prophetic Peter F Hamilton has been so far. Let's hope that everything in his novels do not come true.

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Space launches

      One problem with a space weapon is the energy costs in getting it up (so as to speak). It requires a fairly large rocket to get a 10 ton payload to altitude.

      Then there's the accuracy viewpoint. You'd need a bigger laser to 'light up' your target from space, although a combination of GPS and image recognition would probably do the job....

    2. Steve X

      Peter F Hamilton

      I do like the idea of trains running through wormholes, though. As long as Alsthom doesn't get to build them: "it was the wrong sort of subspace precipitation".

  4. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Paris Hilton

    You better watch out, Mr. Terrorist

    Imma f@#$ you over with my huge Penetrator.

    Ooops... I errr... still can't .... actually get it up :/

    (Paris, just 'cos... Alright?)

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The easier and safer option


    If they were to drop the toy on Dimona rather than Natanz, peace in the region would be much more likely as then would there be no need for such weapons research/facilities.

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Thumb Down

      Actually (and more seriously)

      ... two wrongs don't make a right.

      Violence usually tends to beget more violence (unless of course one side is completely for all intents and purposes utterly defeated or exterminated - and that in itself is too extreme to contemplate).

      So don't be silly. What you suggest is just likely to make things worse.

      But that's what the whole middle east is about isn't it? A whole series of wrong decisions on the part of many parties to make things 'better' whatever that definition of better actually is.

      How did the middle east get tooled up anyway?

      There is no easy answer to this problem.

      Israel is constantly at odds with its angry Arab neighbours who outnumber them and appear to ongoingly conniver to beat the crap out of them, like a cornered cat maybe. Said Arab neighbours are somewhat bitter and always on the watch for the next smack Israel may deal them. Uncle Sam likewise is always messing about here, messing about there, arguably not with true benevolent intent but more out of self-interest, smacking the odd Arab nation or two once in a while. Britannia and Australia appear to be Uncle Sam's lackeys.

      Meanwhile the poor victims are the poor innocent Arabs, Jews and others who just got in the way. One could argue too, the poor misguided souls that joined the great armies of the West and got maimed or killed as a result.

      To try to get people to, I dunno, just go down to the pub and just buy each other rounds and just flipping get along is apparently too hard.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Sup Up and Solve a Crisis

        "So don't be silly. What you suggest is just likely to make things worse." .... sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD Posted Wednesday 23rd December 2009 17:52 GM

        Of course, it is silly, sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD, it is not meant to be treated as real and is only shared as a novel change from the usual manic threats aired from the other side/group of idiots.

        And I'll have a pint of Radeberger, please, and would wholeheartedly endorse the Master Plan, which couldn't be made any simpler for the simpletons ..."To try to get people to, I dunno, just go down to the pub and just buy each other rounds and just flipping get along is apparently too hard."

        Methinks you must be a crazy fool with a terrorising agenda if that pleasure is too hard for you to enjoy and extend ...... and the world appears to be full of them, full of themselves and their importance too, in a bigger world in which they are as nothing but a fleeting bad moment.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Except the guy down the street buying a bread knife is not a religious lunatic who has denied the holocaust and announced his intention to wipe a foreign sovereign state (yes Israel - don't like a lot of what they do politically or militarily but there are an awful lot of "innocent" people living there) from the face of the planet.

    If the guy in the street was such a person. i'd kick him in the nuts.

    Mine's the one with the Grand Slam and the Avro Lancaster in the pocket.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Want a Nobel Peace Prize? Just tell everyon you can bomb them if you want.

      >> a religious lunatic who has denied the holocaust

      Who cares about holocaust deniers? One must be seriously retarded or disingenious to consider this a cause for a "preemptive strike".

      >> announced his intention to wipe a foreign sovereign state

      Guess what. He didn't. On the other hand, western leaders are constantly going on about attacks on sovereign states, having already bombed Afghanistan to the stone age and invaded Iraq under false pretenses, this being a hard-core warcrime.

    2. b 3

      hmm read up on the history!

      i too care about innocent people, which is why i am an anti-zionist! (read "the ethnic cleansing of palestine" by ilan pappe, "overcoming zionism" by joel kovel and "khirbet kizeh", all deal with innocent people! (hint, they are NOT the zionists!)

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Fewer weapons?

    "The only significant enhancement ... is precision guidance, which should mean that far fewer weapons and bombers will be needed to eliminate a target."

    As far as I remember, the RAF never needed more than 1 Grandslam to turn any given target into a fairly large and smoking crater. Does this means that the glorious USAF need precision guidance to achieve the same sort of accuracy as the RAF 65 years ago :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re:Fewer weapons

      Really? It took 3 sorties by 2 squadrons to get Tirpitz out of commission with these. With some help from Goering wanting to shovel a rotten egg on Denitz table.

      1. R Callan

        A couple of minor problems

        "Tirpitz" was disabled and finally sunk with Tallboys not Grandslams.

        A "sortie" is one flight by one aircraft.

        Because "Tirpitz" was in a remote and distant fjord it was easily protected by Freya (early warning radar) and smoke screens. If the target could not be seen due to smoke it was very difficult to hit. The critical damage that caused it to be transfered from Assenfjord to Tromso was caused by "I think that's the target so here's one for luck" bombing. One hit on the bow and two near misses caused irreparable damage. Most of the aircraft on the raid returned to Yagodnik in Russia with the bombs still on board. (They were too expensive and took too long to make to be jettisoned when they were not dropped on target.)

        Bombing with Grandslams, usually against viaducts and similar civil engineering works, was not intended to hit the target, but to near miss it and let the seismic effects do the required damage.

      2. Dave Bell

        Damage assessment

        They tried a lot of different ways to get the Tirpitz.

        It's likely that the midget submarines put it out of action for the rest of the war, but it stayed afloat. And while it was afloat, for all the Admiralty knew, it could put to sea.

        Precision weapons don't change that.

        And the Tirpitz was protected by smoke screens. The RAF was lucky to get a hit. Modern systems would at least let them see the Tirpitz through the smoke.

        It doesn't need precision weapons for that.

        And if I were building an underground factory, I'd be very careful how I laid out the tunnels. I'd want to hide just where the super-bombs have to be aimed as. The shockwaves might knock out the centrifuges at quite a distance.

        I'm not sure how much help precision weapons would be there.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    "It is also scary how prophetic Peter F Hamilton has been so far"

    Not really. Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven used the idea of a orbital penetrator or "Rod from God" in various novels and short stories through the 70s and 80s. The colloquial term was "smart rocks," which might explain why the SDI kinetic energy kill project was called "Brilliant pebbles."

    You can guess what's in my pocket.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @George Tuk

    Are you having me on? Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty and has complied with all its obligations under that treaty including multiple inspections. The treaty permits development of domestic nuke facilities and the inspectors have found no evidence that they are doing anything else. Signatory countries are obliged to assist any fellow signatory in the development of domestic nuke plants. Something the good ol' US of A, the UK, and France are conspicuously failing to do. Political pressure has/is being applied to two other signatories who have tried to help Iran; Russia and China.

    There is a country in the Mid East which has point-blank refused to sign the NNPT, has as good as admitted having a nuke bomb development facility, and has shown consistent aggression to its neighbours. Can you guess which country that is?

    Oh and I seem to recall hearing similar allegations being made about Iraq before they were proved to be bollocks and the emphasis switched to less specific WMD (which were equally bollocks but we were at war by then).

    AC as I can't be arsed getting flamed by the usual suspects.

  10. Daniel Wilkie


    A boffin managed to knock these together in a shed with ducktape and string 60 odd years ago, yet now it's hugely expensive, way over budget, and "very difficult".

    Honestly, are we moving forward or backward? Next year no doubt I'll be reading about delays in issuing a new bayonet due to cost overruns and design issues.


    1. Chris 244

      Re: John Smith 19

      You missed an even earlier (earliest?) reference, Robert Heinlein writing in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had a rebel group on the moon dropping large rocks down the gravity well that is Earth. On a precision grid pattern. Announced in advance. So people could flee the areas. Instead people gathered at to watch the show. And got blowed up good.

    2. TimeMaster T

      hang on ...

      and paper clips. People always forget the paper clips.

  11. b 3

    leave iran alone!

    israel has 200 nooks apparently..they have consistently denied inspection and they kill innocent people..ahmadi-nejad ACTUALLY said that the zionist regime *must be wiped from the pages of history*, but any fool who thinks that the second iran gets a bomb (even IF that's what they will do) they will hurl it at palestine is a fool. EVERYONE KNOWS what the zionists are like, they will slaughter thousands if not millions of iranians as a "going wild and that is a good thing" (actual tipzi lipni quote) response..(btw, i have read "the ethnic cleansing of palestine" and "overcoming zionism" and "khirbet kizeh", so i have some knowledge on the subject)..and my grandfather was jewish, but any biology i may or may not have does NOT dictate my morality..common human decency does!

    thank you.

  12. asdf Silver badge

    USAF sucks

    Geopolitical tensions aside myself like William Gates and the rest of the US armed forces is just about sick and tired of the incompetent money wasting USAF. They are still fighting the cold war and their military industrial complex buddies waste tax payer money on super weapons always behind schedule over budget that have no bearing on your current missions (this one unlike the USAF in general might actually be relevant but of course it is not available to be much help) I do believe it is time to once again fold the USAF back into the Army, (Army Air Corp) get rid of their nuke misplacing corrupt appropriations brass (lmao at Cargo plane fiasco) and put them back under the Army chain of command.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Vickers got the the Tallboy into use in about two years. (BW had already done the maths)

    IF they went back to a very powerful earthquake bomb; designed to penentrate the ground near the target rather than the hardened structure itself, then accuracy is no longer paramount.

  14. asdf Silver badge

    USAF fail

    In case my earlier post was too ranting to get published will say what an EPIC FAIL for the USAF. Their one time to both actually be relevant again geopolitically and show off why the US taxpayer wasted hundreds of billions on their pet project B2 (instead of say building a supercollider 3x the size of LHC or even go to Mars) and they can't even get a relatively simple (in concept similiar to grand slam) bomb available in time. So much for having a viable stick to help negotiations with Iran. By the time the USAF bureaucracy deliver it will be 2020 the issue will long be resolved and it will cost the tax payers 20 billion. USAF needs to become the Army Air Corp again.

    1. PT

      Not their fault, actually

      According to, work started on the original bunker buster - the BLU113 - in February 1st 1991, and the first operational units were "delivered to theater" on February 27th, during the first Gulf War. That was with the air force doing its own development.

      However, you are right about the USAF being a colossal waste of money, and when the Obama administration took over its dismantling was actually mentioned in public.

    2. asdf Silver badge

      slight clarification

      Ok I did get the dollar amount of B2 wrong as the total cost was "only" 44.75 billion (of course this is in 1980s and 90s dollars). With the F22 and all the other massive USAF worthless pork we could easily be talking a couple hundred billion dollars total. The fact is and as Sec. Gates is trying to show the USAF exists to protect the USA and support our other armed forces in achieving the goals given my our civilian leadership. It seems the AF still believe they exist solely to provide jobs to worthless Bureaucracrats both officer (lmao@ AF bootcamp and OCS) and civilian as well as providing plush jobs and contracts for their buddies in the private "defense" industry who hook them up once they retire. It is disgusting how little has been spent on our actually servicemen and women and how much gets spent on white collar white republican asshole chicken hawks (ala Blackwater crowd).

  15. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    RE: Daniel Wilkie Posted Wednesday 23rd December 2009 17:50 GMT

    A boffin managed to knock these together in a shed with ducktape and string 60 odd years ago, yet now it's hugely expensive, way over budget, and "very difficult".

    Honestly, are we moving forward or backward? Next year no doubt I'll be reading about delays in issuing a new bayonet due to cost overruns and design issues.

    In 1991 the US airforce needed a bigger laser guided bomb for the Iraq vs rest of the world war then, it took the designers, engineers and machinists 4 weeks to design, build and test the bomb.. then send it out for production.

    The designer often joked that it took 4 weeks to do this, but 18 months to fill out all the paperwork afterwards.

    The only problems with the hypersonic launched from orbit bunker buster bomb is how do you get it up there in the first place, and how do you stop it melting on the way back down?

    plus on its way down it will look just like an incoming nuke to enemy radars.......

  16. Inachu

    If they are used in this future war.....

    It will make no difference as even biblical notations say hell will rain down on Israel.

    Israel will then take over 80% of Iraqi land to rebuild the Tower of Babel.

    So USA troops are just there to keep Iraq weak with no real independance, zero self reliance.

    But the drums of war are not being drummed by Iran but by militant christian neocons.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Eurabian propaganda

    I'm amazed at the tenor of the comments here - it appears that the Iranian Propaganda Ministry is writing most of them. Iran = good, USA, UK, Israel, Europe = bad. Ooooh, the whole world is ganging up on the innocent, peace-loving Mullahs in Iran.

    Wake up and smell the camel dung - you're already in it up to your necks, and the Mullahs are shoveling more every minute.

    If you honestly believe Iran is the good guy in this, you're already beaten and the shooting hasn't even started yet.

    1. asdf Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      just to clarify

      I am a good merkin that loves my country and though I didn't mention it in my posting Iran is a total shithole run by a 13th century theocracy. I am not ripping on the US or even the real US armed forces just the sick expensive joke the USAF is and how when we need them most they are not there to scare our enemies into line. They are the first to get in the appropriations line but last to show any real benefit to the USA.

  18. Bounty

    NK has nukes, not a whole lot of penetrating going on there.

    Actually it takes 3 wrongs (left turns) to make a right.

  19. Winkypop Silver badge

    Who let the Americans play with matches?

    You know what happened last time, and the time before, and the time before...

  20. Keith T

    Pearl Harbouring our enemies again?

    It will be inexcusable if our leaders "Pearl Harbour" Iran on our behalf.

    Which nuclear weapon owning country can claim a track record of not having invaded another country in over 200 years?

    None. We are all war-mongers when compared with the Persians.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Lack of Historical Knowledge alert!...

      "..None. We are all war-mongers when compared with the Persians..."

      Tell that to the Athenians, the Phrygians, the Beotians and the Spartans....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Lack of Historical Knowledge alert

        All of whom were nutted by Xerxes XXXV within the last 200 years?

  21. Il Midga di Macaroni

    No urgency, red tape gets in the way

    Back in 1941 Barnes Wallis felt the urgency of wartime conditions and worked 18 hours a day on the earthquake bomb to get it finished in six months or so. Now we have the Government Accountability Office which pokes its nose into every worthwhile project and suggests stupid ways of saving money by cutting out all safeguards against delays.

    Red Tape, the most prolific disease in western society today.

  22. dave 151

    re: Eurabian propaganda

    you raise a good point AC. My question is "How do I know which of the various parties is lying to me?" Lets see if I can work out a logical approach to solving this one.

    Iran - could be lying. So why co-operate with the inspectors? to hide the lie perhaps? Let's assume they are lying. They surely know that simply possessing a nuke, let alone using one, would result in the country being reduced to radioactive dust in short order. If they fancied their chances and lobed one at Israel they still know that Israel has at least 200 to lob back and the Yanks would join in just to use up out-of-date stock (nukes go off you know). The Iranian leaders may be a bit odd to our eyes but I don't think they're suicidally stupid. But I can't eliminate the possibility.

    USA - now would our best pals over the pond ever tell fibs to start a war? Yes. To borrow a phrase from Harley Davison "if I have to explain you wouldn't understand".

    Israel - where to start? Must be getting on for 200 UN resolutions telling them to play nicely with the other kids by now. Security council resolutions condemning Israel's aggressive actions consistently vetoed by our bestist buddies in Yankland. Lock a guy up for revealing their secret nuke weapons manufacturing facility then whine like hell that Iran, despite a total lack of evidence, might be doing what they did. And that's just recent history.

    Europe - shifting influences are making European politics very interesting at the mo. Lots of states sick of Russia but also scared of each other. Non of them are tooled up for an international fight. UK & France seem to want to join the USA. Germany don't seem so keen. The anti-Iran stuff I'm hearing is predominately coming from UK & France. France has nuke bombs and a decent military, as does UK. But would they get away politically with pitching in with the Yanks in another war having had their reputations damaged by Iraq?

    My conclusions - I can't rule out that Iran wants to develop a nuke weapon but it strikes me as unlikely. They stand to gain nothing by doing it and a hell of a lot to loose. As a previous post mentioned the USA could nuke anything they liked with ease. So why don't they do so with the Iranian "threat"? What's to stop them? Can't be concern for loss of innocent lives as we've seen from Hiroshima to Iraq via Vietnam. Can't be public opinion or the public would be rioting about the restrictions on the constitution by now. If I've got my logic right (and I'm open to a flaming on this one) If you want something it makes little sense to destroy it by rendering it radioactive. So I can only conclude that they (USA/Israel) want something that Iran has. I'm going to guess it's oil for USA and territorial domination for Israel.

    Anyway - have a happy holiday one and all. I'm off to test the sherry.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      good analysis

      Dave, good analysis, and take an extra sip of the Sherry - I'll join you.

      You're absolutely correct in stating that none of the countries involved have acted with entirely Simon-pure motives. Some are more opaque than others, but it becomes difficult to trust ANY of them.

      On the 200+ UN resolutions, please remember that the UN is basically a farce - everyone ignores UN resolutions because they simply have no teeth. Additionally, the UN resolutions are FAR from impartial. Outer Camelstan can introduce a resolution which is total nonsense, but since they are a member of Bloc X, all the other countries in Bloc X will vote for this, even if it resolves that the earth is flat. Countries seem to feel the same way about UN resolutions as Chavs feel about ASBOs - high score is a mark of pride (whether or not it should be is another matter).

      The only real problem I see with your analysis is that it assumes the Mullahs are rational actors. While they are interested in self-preservation, they also subscribe to various apocalyptic messianic visions involving the immanent return of some Mullah or other from the 8th century, and they figure they might as well give him a rousing welcome by eliminating various (perceived) enemies of Allah as a token of their piety.

      They are also using a very old propaganda trick to help themselves stay in power. That trick is to create an external enemy (real or imagined, doesn't matter) to rally the populace around them, and to distract the populace from the very real and ongoing internal problems of the country and the regime.

      Israel doesn't plan to invade Iran and doesn't even want to - and couldn't anyway - yet the Mullahs loudly and constantly insist that Israel is a mortal threat and should be "wiped off the map". That's pretty paranoid, and paranoia plus nuclear weapons is a bad combination. It is even worse when one side feels they have nothing to lose because the world is about to end anyway.

      As to the Cousins invading Iraq, I suspect we won't know the real reasons for this for probably 50 years. It may very well be that Dubya just got confused and invaded Iraq instead of Iran because heck, there's only two letters difference anyway, so where's the problem?

      If push comes to shove and the US and Iran do decide to duke it out, the result will be messy, violent and brief. Remember that Iran and Iraq fought for eight years and it was a draw (both sides lost), while the US dismantled the Iraqi military in a few weeks - and has been playing whack-a-mole-since. This is a very dangerous situation, because if Iran does figure out how to build a bomb, their biggest problem will be deciding where to use it - and Israel is a prime candidate. That won't affect the result of the war, but it will kill a lot of Israelis who were otherwise uninvolved.

      International politics is a VERY high stakes game - when you add religious fanaticism and nuclear weapons, everyone will lose.

      Maybe I'll have some more Sherry . . .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The reason we went to war with Iraq

        We do know why the USA and UK invaded Iraq. I'm sure some documents will be classified for 25 or 50 years, but the inquiry taking place in the UK is revealing certain dominant themes, which haven't been uncovered in the previous white-washed inquiries.

        One overriding theme is regime change. The official stated reason for attacking Iraq was that of WMD, but shortly after a meeting between Tony Blair and Dubya, Blair mentioned for the first time to his inner circle of friends, colleagues the idea of regime change.

        But this was never communicated to the general public.

        Another interesting theme is how various people involved are now distancing themselves from Tony Blair.

    2. 7mark7


      "As a previous post mentioned the USA could nuke anything they liked with ease"

      Just as they could in 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000. The *consequences* today would be just the same.

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @ Chris 244, @ Boris The Cockroach

    @ Chris 244

    " Robert Heinlein writing in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had a rebel..."

    Totally forgot that one. Pournelle and Niven knew Heinlein but he does pre-date them. IIRC the thing the rebels are using is more a weaponised mass driver that's originally designed to supply grain shipments to earth to feed its population than a tailored weapon.

    @ Boris The Cockroach

    "The only problems with the hypersonic launched from orbit bunker buster bomb is how do you get it up there in the first place, and how do you stop it melting on the way back down?"

    You presume it would also weigh about 14 tonnes but kinetic energy is proportiional to velocity ^2 but only linear to mass. The KE of a mass at M2 is 4x that of M1, at M3 it's 9x. orbital velocity is roughly M23 (taking the speed of sound as 340ms). You could not hope to retain *all* that velocity (if you did you'd stil *be* in orbit) but you could retain quite a bit.

    Sub-orbital velocity (sounding rockets) would still give plenty of KE coming down. An orbital weapon merely gives you some flexibiltiy. NB it is banned by treaty (Google for "fractional orbital bombardment system" for workaround)

    ICBM warheads use lots of ablator but Pournelle's scheme was a Tungsten rod (1-2 foot wide by 10s of feet long) as an oversize version of the armour piercing rounds used by anti-tank guns. Tungsten at re-entry temperatures actually vapourises but properly designed most of it would remain and dump a lot of energy into the target. Note that precision guidance (needed from 100km+ altitude) does not have to use jets, rockets or fins. Moving mass or CMG systems can operate within the package.

    This is not *that* new an idea. Lockheed proposed a bomber version of the SR71 with a large part of the explosive force coming from the M3 delivery from 80 000 ft. AFAIK it never got to prototype but I think the missile carrying version did get to drop testing.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "Deep penetration"

    A properly dug bunker in a mountain can never be cracked by a conventional bomb and even a nuke would have a problem to evaporate more than 200 meters of earth or stone. Underground Coal mines are easily 1000 meters deep. The only technical issue being to secure and conceal the entry.

    I don't think this "super" bomb does an serious damage to the Iranians, as they already expect such a strike and have dug in.

    A much better strategy would be denying oil exports as that would destroy them economically, but it would also drive up oil prices, so it is a no-go for the country of gaz-guzzling SUVs.

  25. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: asdf

    Since you think you know so much about all the possible threats that could face America, her forces and people at home and aborad, for the next ten years (I'll be genearous, seeing as the USAF plan usually 20-30 years out), I'm sure you can tell us exactly which designs should be bought in what numbers to meet all those threats.

    Oh, you can't.... just let me take a moment to fake surprise.

    I'll give you a simple example. In the '70s there was the question of how the US should protect friendly Middle Eastern oil-producers (namely Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) from attack from a neighbour building a Pan-Arabian empire. The naive on the left laughed and said it would never happen, that it was just the "military-industrial complex" looking for excuses to spend money on unwanted weapons. Roll forward twenty years and Saddam made Iraq's second move for Kuwait, a US friend and oil-producer. Not surprisingly, all those on the left that had said it would never happen were very quiet when it actually did, and the US found itself fighting a complex air and ground war that the pundits said would never happen after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Military planning is not easy, if it was then the naive like yourself could actually be employed to do it. To play safe, the politicians and military planners have to look at ALL possible threats and operations, cut out the less likely, then stretch the budget to meet as many of the likely as possible. Note - they don't even cover all the most likely ones, hence all the budget battles. If the USAF, Army and Navy were getting everything they wanted no matter how reckles the request, as you suggest, then they wouldn't all be lobbying Congress with their own projects.

    If you want a little historical perspective, go read up on the Isolationists and New Dealers and you may then understand how unready America was to meet the totally unexpected Second World War (remember, they naively called the First "the war to end all wars"?), where the 1941 US was suddenly at risk of Jap air attacks to the largely undefended Eastern seaboard. No US politician (outside of the extreme branches of the Dummicrats) actually wants the US is to be in a similar position again, hence the willingness to spend to meet the "most likely" scenarios.

    Instead of your hip and PC griping about USAF waste, try thiking about the problems faced by the planners. No, not just repeating the soundbites of someone else, but really thinking for yourself. If you can, that is.

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