USAF Completes First Drop Tests On New Penetrator Bomb

A new 5,000-lb. penetrator has completed a series of release tests, paving the way for the U.S. Air Force development program to enter production later this year. 

A 96th Test Wing F-15E dropped the GBU-72 Advanced 5K (A5K) penetrator on the Eglin AFB, Florida, test range on Oct. 7, completing a series of release tests that began on July 23. 

The GBU-72 A5K, which will replace the 5,000-lb. GBU-28, combines the BLU-108 bomb with a tail kit guidance system from a 2,000-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munition, the Air Force says. 

The Air Force launched development of the GBU-72 to fill undisclosed gaps in its capability to strike hardened tunnels and bunkers. A design goal was to achieve a target kill using fewer bombs than would be required with the GBU-28, and, thus, lowering the overall cost. 

Development and operational testing of the GBU-72 will continue in fiscal 2022 as procurement begins. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.