16 April 2010

MOP : Bom Seberat 15 Tan, Merobek Tanah Sedalam 60 Meter




Krisis kewangan dunia yang turut dirasai Amerika Syarikat, ternyata bukan halangan negara kuasa besar itu meneruskan agenda mempamerkan kekuatan pertahanannya, termasuk menghasilkan bom gergasi yang bakal siap seawal pertengahan tahun depan.

Demi memastikan impiannya itu tercapai, Washington yang kini dibebani hutang mencecah AS11.9 trilion (RM39 trilion), mempercepatkan usaha penghasilan bom dikenali ‘Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) yang turut menjadi bom bukan nuklear terbesar yang serba canggih dalam persenjataan negara itu.

Bom konvensional seberat 15 tan atau 13,600 kilogram, diusahakan syarikat Boeing menerusi kontrak bernilai AS52 juta (RM174 juta). Ukurannya pula panjang enam meter dengan ukur lilit satu meter.

Menurut pemerhati isu pertahanan dan keselamatan antarabangsa menerusi laman webnya, GlobalSecurity.org, MOP yang turut dikenali dengan nama ‘Big BLU’ atau program ‘Direct Hard Target Strike Weapon’ dalam dokumen tertentu, membabitkan peruntukan sebenar kira-kira AS74.5 juta (RM249 juta) - tidak termasuk ujian dan kontrak program integrasinya.

‘Kehebatannya’ pula berdasarkan ciri-ciri ganasnya iaitu mampu membawa bahan letupan seberat 2,400 kilogram dan 10 kali lebih kuat daripada bom bakal digantinya yang dipasang pada pesawat pengebom Stealth B-2, ketika ini. Ia juga dikatakan dapat memusnahkan kubu bawah tanah dengan kedalaman mencecah 60 meter sebelum meletup.

Jika dilihat, biarpun ujian MOP dimulakan pada 2007, usaha penghasilan bom gergasi itu terbantut selama dua tahun akibat masalah kewangan dan hanya beberapa bulan lalu, pentadbiran Rumah Putih yang kini di bawah pentadbiran Presiden Barack Obama, memutuskan program itu harus dihidupkan kembali.

Namun, seperti dilaporkan media pertahanan antarabangsa, MOP bukanlah bom terbesar pernah dibina Amerika kerana pernah menghasilkan bom T12 seberat 44,000 pound atau 19,000 kilogram. Malah, bom paling ‘popular’ Amerika - GBU-43 yang digelar ‘Mother of All Bombs’ adalah seberat 9,525 kilogram.

Bagaimanapun, MOP boleh disifatkan sebagai bom konvensional terbesar yang serba serbi lebih canggih berbanding bom sebelumnya dengan ciri-ciri termasuk sistem arahan berasaskan laser selain dilengkapi Sistem Kedudukan Global (GPS).

Apa yang pasti, keupayaan MOP itu sebenarnya jelas merujuk kepada dua musuh utama Amerika ketika ini - Iran dan Korea Utara yang sememangnya diketahui memiliki kekuatan bom nuklear, termasuk pembinaan loji dan kubu di bawah tanah.

Malah, ini diakui Setiausaha Akhbar Pentagon, Geoff Morell, yang menegaskan bom gergasi itu mensasarkan kawasan atau tapak kubu bawah tanah yang turut digunakan Pyongyang dan Teheran bagi program nuklear mereka.

Namun, bagi menepis dakwaan mengaitkan program bom MOP secara langsung dengan ancaman Iran dan Korea Utara, Morell menafikan Amerika sudah menetapkan sasaran tertentu bagi menghalakan bom gergasi berkenaan.

“Bagi saya, tiada sesiapa pun yang boleh meramalkan sasaran yang disifatkan sebagai berpotensi untuk diserang. Bom ini hanya memberikan keupayaan yang kami anggap sebagai perlu berikutan situasi dunia yang kita hadapi sekarang,” katanya.

Apa pun alasan mereka, kehadiran MOP itu disusuli persoalan mengenai keperluan Amerika mewujudkan senjata pembunuh itu.

Selain meneruskan tradisinya mempamerkan kehebatannya di mata dunia dengan persenjataan dan kelengkapan ketenteraan yang canggih, bom MOP itu menjadi amaran Amerika kepada Iran dan Korea Utara supaya menamatkan program nuklear mereka.

Malah, MOP itu dianggap pelan alternatif menangani program nuklear Iran selepas negara Islam itu mendedahkan kewujudan tapak nuklearnya yang tersembunyi di sebuah gunung berhampiran kota suci bagi pengikut Syiah, Qom.

Korea Utara yang diketuai pemimpinnya, Kim Jong Il, pula sememangnya diketahui negara yang memiliki kekuatan nuklear dan sudah melakukan beberapa siri ujian letupan, termasuk di bawah tanah.

Pada masa sama, Amerika juga mahu menunjukkan kepada Russia dan China - dua negara lawan tradisinya, bahawa Washington tidak pernah melupakan usaha mengukuhkan kekuatan persenjataan dan sistem pertahanannya, biarpun berdepan masalah kewangan.

Dan sudah semestinya, kekuatan Amerika itu juga pasti memberi kelegaan kepada negara sekutu utamanya, Israel, yang sememangnya diketahui berkongsi banyak program dan peralatan ketenteraan dengan Amerika.

Namun, setakat ini, kehebatan MOP adalah di atas kertas dan kekuatan sebenarnya belum teruji lagi. Dakwaan boleh dibuat bagi menjayakan perang psikologi Washington dengan musuh utamanya.

Apa yang membimbangkan, kerakusan Amerika menghasilkan senjata baru itu hanya menggiatkan lagi perlumbaan senjata di peringkat dunia, khususnya Russia dan China yang tidak mahu ketinggalan.

Berita dalam Bahasa Inggeris (link)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon is speeding up delivery of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.

Call it Plan B for dealing with Iran, which recently revealed a long-suspected nuclear site deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.

The 15-ton behemoth - called the "massive ordnance penetrator," or MOP - will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives. The bomb is about 10 times more powerful than the weapon it is designed to replace.

The bomb, made by Boeing Co., is approximately 20.5 feet long. It has a 31.5-inch diameter and weighs slightly less than 30,000 pounds.

The Pentagon has awarded a nearly $52 million contract to speed up placement of the bomb aboard the B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials say the bomb could be fielded as soon as next summer.

Pentagon officials acknowledge that the new bomb is intended to blow up fortified sites like those used by Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, but they deny there is a specific target in mind.

"I don't think anybody can divine potential targets," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. "This is just a capability that we think is necessary given the world we live in."

The Obama administration has struggled to counter suspicions lingering from George W. Bush's presidency that the United States is either planning to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities itself or would look the other way if Israel did the same.

The administration has been careful not to take military action off the table even as it reaches out to Iran with historic talks this month. Tougher sanctions are the immediate backup if diplomacy fails to stop what the West fears is a drive for a nuclear weapon.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would probably only buy time. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has called a strike an option he doesn't want to use.

The new U.S. bomb would be the culmination of planning begun in the Bush years. The Obama administration's plans to bring the bomb on line more quickly indicate that the weapon is still part of the long-range backup plan.

"Without going into any intelligence, there are countries that have used technology to go further underground and to take those facilities and make them hardened," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "This is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one."

After testing began in 2007, development of the bomb was slowed by about two years because of budgetary issues, Whitman said, and the administration moved last summer to return to the previous schedule.

North Korea, led by Kim Jong Il, is a known nuclear weapons state and has exploded working devices underground. The United States and other countries have offered to buy out the country's weapons program. The Obama administration is trying to lure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table after a walkout last year.

Iran is a more complex case, for both diplomatic and technical reasons. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claims its nuclear program is peaceful and meant only to produce energy, but the West suspects a covert bomb program that may be only a year or so away from fruition.

"I don't really see it as a near-term indication of anything being planned. I think certainly down the road it has a certain deterrent factor," said Kenneth Katzman, a specialist on Iran and the Middle East at the Congressional Research Service. "It adds to the calculus, let's say, of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il."

Details about Iran's once-secret program have come out slowly and often under duress, as with last month's surprise confirmation of the hidden underground development site near Qom.

That revelation came a month after the Pentagon had asked Congress to shift money to speed up the MOP program, although U.S. and other intelligence agencies had suspected for years that Iran was still hiding at least one nuclear development site.

The MOP could, in theory, take out bunkers such as those Saddam Hussein had begun to construct for weapons programs in Iraq, or flatten the kind of cave and tunnel networks that allowed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to escape U.S. assault in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2001.

The precision-guided bomb is designed to drill through earth and almost any underground encasement to reach weapons depots, labs or hideouts.
Untuk maklumat tambahan tentang MOP


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