~e; EM bunker busters weaponry

From brian carroll <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Mon, 8 Oct 2001 09:47:37 -0600

  From Wired News, available online at:

Nuke 'Em From On High
By Kennedy Grey

2:00 a.m. Oct. 8, 2001 PDT

Following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon,
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was questioned on ABC
television's This Week program about the possible use of tactical
nuclear weapons in the expected conflicts to come.

In practiced Pentagonese, Rumsfeld deftly avoided answering the
question of whether the use of tactical nuclear weapons could be ruled out.

Though large "theater" thermonuclear devices -- doomsday bombs --
don't fit the Bush administration's war on terrorism, smaller
tactical nukes do not seem out of the question in the current mindset
of the Defense Department.

The most likely candidate is a tactical micro-nuke called the B61-11,
an earth-penetrating nuclear device known as the "bunker buster."

The B61-11 was designed to destroy underground military facilities
such as command bunkers, ballistic missile silos and facilities for
producing and storing weapons.

However, it could be used against the warren of tunnels and caves
carved under the Afghan mountains that are often cited as a potential
refuge for the U.S. government's prime suspect, Osama bin Laden.

The B61-11's unique earth-penetrating characteristics and wide range
of yields allow it to threaten deeply situated and otherwise
indestructible underground targets from the air.

The 1,200-pound B61-11 replaces the 8,900-pound, nine-megaton B53
device, a bomb initially designated as an earth-penetrating weapon.

The B53 is deliverable only by enormous and vulnerable B-52 bombers.
By contrast, the relatively diminutive B61-11 can be delivered by the
stealthier B-2 bomber, or even by conventional fighters such as the

The B61-11 is designed to burrow through layers of concrete by way of
a "shock-coupling effect."

The design directs the force of the B61-11's explosive energy
downward, destroying everything buried beneath it to a depth of
several hundred meters, according to a story in the March 2, 1997
issue of Defense News.

The B53, on the other hand, with a force equal to 9 million tons of
TNT, penetrates the earth simply by creating a massive crater, rather
than the more precise downward blow of the B61-11.

The B61-11 is the most recent nuclear device added to the U.S. nuclear
arsenal since 1989.

It was developed and deployed secretly, according to a story from the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The U.S. military sneaked it past
test and development treaties, as well as public and congressional
debate, by defining the B61-11 as an adaptation of a pre-treaty
technology rather than a new development.

Depending on the yield of the bomb, the B61-11 can produce explosions
ranging from 300 tons of TNT to more than 300,000 tons. This is
significantly less than the B53, but still far larger than even the
greatest conventional non-nuclear device in U.S. stockpiles. And it
is several times more powerful than the atomic weapons dropped on
Japan in 1945.

Studies by the Natural Resource Defense Council estimate that more
than 150 B61-11s are currently in the U.S. arsenals, scattered among
NATO aircraft carriers and planes on bases in Germany, Great Britain,
Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands and Greece.

Many B61-11s were withdrawn from Europe during the '90s and are now
stored at Kirtland and Nellis Air Force bases in the United States.

According to a desk release from the U.S. Air Force's Public Affairs
office, tests of the earth-penetrating capabilities of the B61-11
were completed on March 17, 1998, in frozen tundra at the Stuart
Creek Impact Area, 35 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Two unarmed B61-11s were dropped to test their ground-penetration
capability. The tests were designed to measure the nuclear bomb
casing's penetration into frozen soil and the survivability of the
weapon's internal components.

A team excavated the two unexploded dummy bombs and took careful
measurements of their angles and depth of penetration into the soil,
which were 6 and 10 feet, according to the Air Force. The shells were
sent back to Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico for full
analysis of how the simulated internal components fared in the impact.

The B6-11's casing didn't rupture in any of the tests, including drops
through concrete from 40,000 feet. All bomb casings were recovered
100 percent intact, according to the release.

Any debate inside the corridors of power about using tactical nukes
will be heightened by the intelligence buzz surrounding bin Laden's
possible ownership of Russian nuclear "suitcase" bombs purchased from
Chechen mafia.

Those weapons are said to be hidden in deep caves and fortified
tunnels in remote regions of Afghanistan.

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the discussion of ways to eradicate
this potential nuclear threat - while simultaneously destroying bin
Laden and his teams - may have led to talk about tactical weapons
that can destroy even heavily fortified underground shelters.

Related Wired Links:


What Future War Looks Like
Sep. 18, 2001

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