June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has awarded nearly $900 million to two companies for new bunker buster bombs.
The deals, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, come under indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for BLU-137/B penetrator warhead production.
Superior Forge and Steel Corp. of Lima, Ohio, was awarded a $476 million contract and A. Finkl & Sons Co. of Chicago was awarded a $419 million contract for production of the bunker busters during the next five years.
The new 2,000-pound class bombs are built around an improved warhead called the BLU-137/B, which will replace existing weapons that have already been a key element in the fight against ISIS.
The new bunker buster bombs will be less likely to fail to explode than those currently being used in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Air Force wrote in its 2018 fiscal budget that the BLU-137 will "increase fuze survivability when used against bunkers, aircraft shelters, and reinforced targets" so it will more reliably explode after punching through its target.
The contracts allows the companies to each produce 300 bombs during the first year of the contracts, and up to 3,500 more each in the four years that follow.
Work will be performed in Chicago, Ill., Falconer, N.Y., Corry, Penn., and Burr Ridge, Ill., and is expected to be completed by May 3, 2020.
Fiscal production funds amounting to $16.7 million and $15 million have been obligated to the companies at the time of the award.