US Air Force drops new ‘bunker buster' bomb for first time

by Gareth Jennings

The new GBU-72 bunker buster bomb being dropped from an F-15E Strike Eagle during a series of tests now announced by the US Air Force. (US Air Force)

The US Air Force (USAF) has performed the first test drops of its new Boeing Guided Bomb Unit‐ (GBU)-72 Advanced 5K (A5K) Penetrator, releasing the ‘bunker buster' bomb from a Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle.

The service announced on 12 October that it had dropped the 5,000 lb weapon (the 5K in its moniker) on several occasions during a series of tests from late July through to early October.

“That series included the first-ever weapons load, flight and release of the weapon 23 July,” the USAF said. “The test series, deemed a success by the Armament Directorate's Direct Attack Division, consisted of three flights”. The USAF noted that the final drop took place into the Elgin Air Force Base (AFB) range in Florida on 7 October, marking the end of the flight trials planned by the 780th Test Squadron and performed by the 40th Flight Test Squadron.

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South Korea launches first domestically developed space launch vehicle

by Alessandra Giovanzanti & Gabriel Dominguez

South Korea launched its first-ever domestically developed space launch vehicle on 22 September, but the rocket failed to place a dummy satellite into orbit.

Called the ‘Nuri' or Korea Space Launch Vehicle II (KSLV-II), the three-stage rocket lifted off from Naro Space Center in South Jeolla Province's Goheung County at 1700 h local time in an event that was also attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The president referred to the development as an “excellent accomplishment for a first launch”, despite the mixed results. “It's not long before we'll be able to launch it exactly into the target trajectory,” said Moon in a speech broadcast on national TV, adding that “the ‘Korea Space Age' is approaching”.

Minister of Science and Technology Lim Hey-sook stated that, while the launch was somewhat disappointing, it is significant as it was “the first test of a launch vehicle independently developed in [South] Korea”. It was meaningful to confirm that “all major launch steps were carried out and [that the country] has secured this core technology”, he added.

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UK sets sights on interim strategic sealift capability

by Richard Scott

MV Hartland Point is one of four strategic sealift ships currently operated by Foreland Shipping under the terms of a 25-year private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement. (Crown Copyright/UK Ministry of Defence)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has begun to explore options for a future strategic sealift capability to begin operation in 2025.

A request for information (RFI) to inform programme and commercial strategies for a planned interim capability, lasting a minimum of five years and to an updated user requirement, was released on 20 October. This interim capability would succeed the MoD's existing sealift contract, which expires at the end of January 2024.

Strategic sealift provides the MoD with a capability to deploy cargo overseas from the United Kingdom in support of both standing commitments and contingent operations. The UK's current roll-on roll-off strategic maritime capacity, vested in the four Flensburger RoRo 2700 sealift ships MV Anvil Point , MV Hartland Point , MV Hurst Point, and MV Eddystone

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Five European countries propose EU rapid reaction force

by Nicholas Fiorenza

Five European countries have proposed an EU rapid reaction force to give the union the ability to act more robustly and quickly.

Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, and Slovenia have drafted a paper proposing that existing EU Battlegroups (EUBGs) be developed into rapidly deployable crisis reaction forces and that the joint decision making on their use be speeded up.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the four other countries presented the initiative to a framework nations seminar in Brussels on 21 October. The evacuation from Kabul in August shows that the EU should be able to act more robustly and quickly, according to the paper.

The five nations proposed that decision making be speeded up by allowing the formation of coalitions of the willing, as stipulated by Article 44 of the EU Treaty. These ad hoc coalitions would be approved by the EU Council to conduct missions or operations.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said EU defence did not require new structures but rather better processes and could be made more robust by longer force standby periods and better training and exercises.

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The US Air Force (USAF) has performed the first test drops of its new Boeing Guided Bomb Unit‐ (GBU)...

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