The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has announced on 6 December that General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GDOTS) awarded a $264 million contract for Mark-80 and BLU-109 Tritonal bomb components. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2023.
The primary U.S. GP bombs are the Mark 80 series. This class of weapons uses a shape known as Aero 1A, designed by Ed Heinemann of Douglas Aircraft as the result of studies in 1946. It has a length-to-diameter ratio of about 8:1, and results in minimal drag for the carrier aircraft. The Mark 80 series was not used in combat until the Vietnam War, but has since replaced most earlier GP weapons. It includes four basic weapon types:
Mark 81 – nominal weight 250 pounds (113 kg)
Mark 82 – nominal weight 500 pounds (227 kg)
Mark 83 – nominal weight 1,000 pounds (454 kg)
Mark 84 – nominal weight 2,000 pounds (907 kg)
The BLU-109/B is a hardened penetration bomb used by the United States Air Force (BLU is an acronym for Bomb Live Unit). As with other “bunker busters”, it is intended to smash through concrete shelters and other hardened structures before exploding. The BLU-109/B has a steel casing about 1 inch (25.4 mm) thick, filled with 530 lb (240 kg) of Tritonal. It has a delayed-action tail-fuze. The BLU-109 entered service in 1985. It is also used as the warhead of some marks of the GBU-15 electro-optically guided bomb, the GBU-27 Paveway III laser-guided bomb, and the AGM-130 rocket-boosted weapon. This weapon can penetrate 4–6 feet of reinforced concrete, which is greater than the 3 foot capability of the Small Diameter Bomb. The BLU-109 is not likely to be retired anytime soon, due to the much larger blast capable from its warhead.