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Germany's Rheinmetall to build bombs for French, German air forces

Germany's Rheinmetall to build bombs for French, German air forces
The air forces of France and Germany have purchased more than 2,000 MK82-EP aircraft bombs, an upgraded version of the MK-80s pictured being dropped by a U.S. B-2 bomber. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- German defense contractor Rheinmetall on Wednesday announced the sale of MK-82-EP general purpose aircraft-dropped bombs to France and Germany.

The order, for about 2,000 bombs, totals $42.3 million, Rheinmetall said in a statement.

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The 500-pound bomb bodies will be used by France's Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter planes, the Direction General de l'Armament said, and as the warhead of the GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition system for Germany's Tornado and Eurofighter platforms.

The upgraded bomb, designed by General Dynamics, is regarded as a free-fall, standard bomb, although it can be fitted with laser guidance and other improvements.

At 7 1/2 feet in length, and with an 18 in. diameter, the warhead is typically filled with the explosive Tritonal, adding about 160 pounds, and designed to explode on impact.

The "EP" designation indicates enhanced performance, and the French and German orders include safety features for better storage, handling and operations.

With improvements over the years, the munition is among the most common air-dropped weapons in the world.

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