Model: B1 Lancer
First Flight: October 18, 1984
North American Aircraft (now part of Boeing), produced 100 B-1B aircraft for the U.S. Air Force in the 1980's. Cost of the total 100-aircraft program, which included funding for other contractors as well as the funds the Government expended itself, was capped at $20.5 billion (FY 81) by President Reagan in a certification to the U.S. Congress. The first B-1B aircraft was delivered to the Air Force at Edwards AFB, California in October 1984, just 33 months after contract go-ahead.
Initial delivery to the Strategic Air Command took place in June 1985 at Dyess AFB, Texas. On October 1, 1986 the B-1B achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and by November 1986 B-1Bs were coming off the production line at a rate of four per month.
B-1Bs are based at Dyess AFB, Texas; Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; McConnell AFB, Kansas; Robins AFB, Georgia; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
The swing-wing design and turbofan engines not only provide greater range and high speed at low levels but they also enhance the bomber's survivability. Wing sweep at the full-forward position allows a short takeoff roll and a fast base-escape profile for airfields under attack. Once airborne, the wings are positioned for maximum cruise distance or high-speed penetration.
The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground-based navigation aids. Included in the B-1B offensive avionics are modular electronics that allow maintenance personnel to precisely identify technical difficulties and replace avionics components in a fast, efficient manner on the ground.
The aircraft's AN/ALQ 161A defensive avionics is a comprehensive electronic counter-measures package that detects and counters enemy radar threats. It also has the capability to detect and counter missiles attacking from the rear. It defends the aircraft by applying the appropriate counter-measures, such as electronic jamming or dispensing expendable chaff and flares. Similar to the offensive avionics, the defensive suite has a re-programmable design that allows in-flight changes to be made to counter new or changing threats.
Numerous sustainment and upgrade modifications are ongoing or under study for the B-1B aircraft. Large portions of these modifications that are designed to increase the combat capability are known as the conventional mission upgrade program. This three-phase program will increase the lethality, survivability and supportability of the B-1B fleet. Phase I of the program added the capability to release cluster bomb unit weapons. Phases II and III are further upgrading the B-1B capability, to include the ability to deliver joint direct attack munitions and standoff weapons, and greatly improve its electronic counter-measures capability.
B-1B Offensive Avionics
Boeing is developing software that provides for the manual selection and insertion of ballistic information into the system to accommodate a range of conventional gravity weapons such as cluster bomb units. These enhancements were completed in 1995.
Boeing is responsible for the software necessary to integrate Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) capabilities into the aircraft's offensive avionics system. In addition, Boeing is developing a common weapon interface unit to provide the connection between the avionics system and MIL-STD 1760 weapons. (MIL-STD 1760 provides a common electrical and digital interface between the weapons and the aircraft.)
Boeing also is incorporating a new improved anti-jam radio and modifications to the aircraft's bomb racks and launcher systems to provide the capability for additional weapons types.
Boeing is working with the Air Force to define the requirements for an upgrade or replacement to the onboard computer system. The current system, while highly reliable and capable of supporting the aircraft's mission, is a product of the original B-1A's development and lacks the capability to support new, complex conventional systems. The upgrade will enable the aircraft to carry and release multiple types of weapons on one mission and will support improvements to the B-1B's electronic countermeasures system.
The first operationalB-1B was delivered to the Air Force at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1985, with initial operational capability on Oct. 1, 1986. The final B-1B was delivered May 2, 1988.
The B-1B holds 61 world records for speed, payload and distance. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1994.
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