BLU-118 Bomb Development

BLU-118 Bomb


The Pentagon urgently needed a weapon that would be more effective than current penetrating weapons against enemies seeking sanctuary in tunnels and caves during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Several Services and a Defense Agency were tasked to develop a more energetic, deeper penetrating and more reliable warhead. The deployment of the resulting warhead was the goal of the BLU-118 Quick Reaction Development project.

ARA was contracted to provide systems engineering and integration support, test planning and execution support, test instrumentation and data analysis, weapon effectiveness analysis and modeling, and weaponeering and attack planning capability. ARA expertise included:

  • warhead modeling
  • field tests
  • instrumentation
  • data analysis
  • effectiveness analysis
  • system engineering and integration (SE&I)


To meet the aggressive schedule without sacrificing performance or safety, ARA applied a wide range of expertise from several divisions and developed custom analytical tools to assess the increased effectiveness of the explosive warhead fill. ARA further reduced risk through the use of our three dimensional hydrocode (SHAMRC) to model the complex warhead detonation process.

Responding to the need for improved capabilities to defeat enemies seeking refuge in tunnels in the early-days of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, ARA helped deliver a 25%-30% improvement over the existing BLU-109 bomb.


From the formation of the ARA and government team until the successful operational demonstration of the new weapon took only 60 days, an exceptional accomplishment compared with the year or more this would have taken in a typical system development.

The new BLU-118 Quick Reaction Development was completed on budget, deployed to forces in the field on schedule, and utilized in the performance of high-priority national security missions.

Test and Evaluation

Weapons Development, Testing, and Effects

From penetration and detonation underground, to air-blast, to a nuclear attack against U.S. satellites in space, ARA scientists and engineers... more