DEBKAfile Special Report March 13, 2012, 9:40 PM (GMT+02:00)
MPR-500 made by Israel's Military Industries
Israel has developed an improved precision, bunker-burrowing weapon which Israeli Military Industries (IMI) unveiled on March 6. The 500-pound MPR-500 is an electro-optical (laser-guided) bomb that can penetrate double-reinforced concrete walls or floors without breaking apart.The bomb was shown in action penetrating four reinforced concrete walls with fragmentation from the explosion limited to a radius of less than three meters.The new weapon is designed as an upgrade for the US Mk82 in Israel Air Force stocks. “The lethality, precision… and relatively low weight of the new weapon,” say its manufacturers, “enable its use against multiple targets in a single pass.”After blowing the first hole in the targeted underground site, the next bombs continue to extend and deepen it.The MPR-500 bridges an operational gap between the 250-pound US GBU-39 small-diameter bomb, 1,000 of which were approved for sale to Israel and the 5,000-pound GBU-28 American super-bunker buster. DEBKAfile notes: The IMI’s presentation of the MPR-500 took place at the height of Israel’s argument with the Obama administration over the need for a near-term strike on Iran’s nuclear sites – especially those Tehran is busy transferring to fortified underground bunkers.It attracted little attention because on the same day, Iran was invited by the Six Powers for nuclear negotiations, Tehran sent out its own invitation to UN nuclear inspectors to visit the suspect military site of Parchin (about which Iran has been hedging since) and the British cabinet received a top-secret intelligence briefing on the likelihood of an Israeli attack.The Israeli Air Force is also reported to be planning to enlarge its Boeing-707 based aerial refueling tanker fleet, another key component in Israel’s ability to carry out an aerial strike against a target as distant as Iran. The expanded tanker fleet, by providing nearly 2 million pounds of fuel, would allow dozens of Israel F-15 and F-16 warplanes to carry more weapons on this mission.Israeli officials have consistently challenged the claims of some experts that the lack the military capacity for a successful strike against Iran’s nuclear facilties.