JUN 29, 2018: The U.S. Air Force has awarded nearly $900 million to two companies for new bunker buster bombs that will be less likely to fail to explode than those currently being used in Iraq and Syria.
The new 2,000-pound class bombs are built around an improved warhead called the BLU-137/B, which will replace existing weapons that have already been a key element in the fight against ISIS.
The BLU-137/B will be used to defeat hardened targets, such as secure command-and-control bunkers and other protected facilities.
The U.S. Air Force wrote in its 2018 fiscal budget that the BLU-137 will “increase fuze survivability when used against bunkers, aircraft shelters, and reinforced targets” so it will more reliably explode after punching through its target.
The USAF first declared its intention to procure an improved ‘bunker buster’ bomb with a draft request for proposals (RFP) that was issued in December 2016. The draft RFP actually covered the procurement of up to 15,000 of the 2,000 lb warheads running through to 2021.
The deals, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, come under indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for BLU-137/B penetrator warhead production.
Ohio-based Superior Forge and Steel Corp. of Lima was awarded a $476 million contract and A. Finkl & Sons Co. of Chicago was awarded a $419 million contract for production of the bunker busters during the next five years.
The contracts allows the companies to each produce 300 bombs during the first year of the contracts, and up to 3,500 more each in the four years that follow.
Work is expected to be completed by May 3, 2020.