B-1 'Lancer' Side View 1 of 2

B-1 'Lancer' Side View 1 of 2

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B-1 "Lancer" Side View 1 of 2

Side view of the B-1 "Lancer"

Warrior Bomber: How America's B-1 Lancer Defies Old Age

Here's What You Need to Know: The B-1 has a proven history of lethality.

(This article first appeared in November 2020.)

Today there are sixty-two B-1B Lancer bombers in service, and while the aircraft are expected to be replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider beginning in 2025, there have been continuing efforts to update and upgrade the aging warbird.

As the United States, Air Force has shifted the primary defense focus to prepare for future potential conflict against peer threats, which is in alignment with the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS), earlier this year the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) began to address the new Bomber Task Force (BTF) structure.

The B-1B will continue to play a critical role. When it was developed in the 1960s, the Rockwell B-1 Lancer was meant to replace both the B-52 Stratofortress and the B-58 Hustler by combining the speed of the former aircraft with the range and payload of the latter. However, the high cost of the B-1 led to the program being canceled in 1977. However, it was restarted in 1981 and the B-1B variant proved ideal for the changing world.

Originally designed strictly for nuclear war, the B-1 underwent a $3 billion conventional refit, and was used in combat operations in Iraq during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, and later in Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. The B-1B was used throughout Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Now with a changing threat on the global stage, the B-1B will again adapt to the tasks required of it. AFGSC has prioritized adjusting locations and the way that bombers deploy to better train and prepare for the future landscape of warfare.

This has included a BTF mission that can provide airmen the opportunity to conduct joint-training with U.S. allies and partners.

“U.S. Strategic Command units regularly conduct training with, and in, support of all Geographic Combatant Commands. In our case, this takes the form of Bomber Task Force missions which provide our Strikers opportunities to integrate with allies and partners and to become familiar with multiple forward areas of operation,” said Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC and Air Forces Strategic-Air commander. “All of this feeds into a larger effort to assure allies and partners, and to help maintain global stability and security.”

In May 2020, some 200 airmen from the 7th Bomb Wing deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for the first BTF in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. While there, the airmen conducted approximately 385 flight hours and executed over thirty training missions twelve of which were higher-headquarters directed, historically completing 100 percent of the assigned missions.

The B-1B bombers were deployed to Guam just a month after the Air Force sent five B-52H bombers back to their home station at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. That essentially ended the Continuous Bomber Presence Mission, which had seen a rotation of B-51, B-1B and B-2A Spirits for half-year stints on the island, which is located just 1,800 miles east of China.

Instead, the BTF has taken on less predictable global deployments.

“BTF missions are routine demonstrations of the credibility of our forces to address a diverse and uncertain security environment, and particularly AFGSC’s ability to deliver lethal, long-range strike options across the globe anytime, anywhere,” Ray said.

Now, the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and 7th BW Airmen have again returned to Andersen AFB to participate in another BTF, which will help support a free and open Indo-Pacific region while also testing and redefining B-1B Lancer capabilities.

“Our first BTF in May proved the concept that B-1s could quickly deploy and operate halfway across the globe,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Stallsworth, 9th EBS commander. “Now, reflecting on Dyess and Ellsworth’s last three successful B-1 BTF’s to the Indo-Pacific region, we have shown that the B-1B is back in business providing combatant commanders with consistent airpower, desired effects and, ultimately, options. This is a clear and strong deterrent message to our adversaries and a reassuring message to our steadfast allies and partners.”

AFGSC has stressed the importance to frequently and consistently adapt to the shifting of potential climates of conflict as the landscape of war constantly changes. It has stressed the importance to continuously train to support any mission, regardless of the time or location.

“The B-1B community has a proven history of lethality from the Cold War to the war on terrorism, and now we are proving ourselves once again at the tactical and strategic levels with the next phase of global operations – Bomber Task Force,” added Stallsworth. “While the last year has been dynamic and turbulent, the entire B-1B crew force and supporting agencies are excited about conducting BTFs around the world.”

B-1B Lancers Receive Weapons Upgrades

The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base has been working with the USA’s B-1B Lancer heavy bomber to upgrade their weapons carrying abilities. The results will increase the non-stealth bomber’s ability to deliver weapons into heavily defended areas, and enhance its value as a maritime strike aircraft as well.

On July 25/05 two Lancers from Dyess auto-released a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile over the White Sands Missile Range, NM, as well as firing three dissimilar weapons from the same launcher. The AGM-158 JASSM missile is part of the B-1 Joint Standoff Weapon/ JASSM Integration (JJI) program, an extension of the B-1B’s Block E system upgrades and one part of the overall B-1B conventional mission upgrade program.

Following these tests, the 7th Bomb Wing became the first unit to achieve initial operational capability of the new JASSM cruise missile as of Aug. 18/05. This means that the missile is now able to be used in combat operations.

The JASSM was designed to fly up to 200 miles into highly defended airspace as an independent cruise missile, in order to reduce the risks of attacking high-value fixed targets without forcing the USAF to use more expensive missiles like the AGM-68C/D CALCM, whose 600+ mile range and complex self-guiding systems may be overkill.

The AGM-158A JASSM has a stealth-enhanced design, and is powered by a Teledyne CAE J402 turbojet. It uses flip-out wings with control surfaces and a single vertical tail for flight control, is guided by a jamming-resistant GPS-aided inertial navigation system, and uses an IIR (Imaging Infrared) seeker for final stage target selection and homing. The missile is armed with a 450 kg (1000 lb) penetrating warhead, and accuracy is quoted as around 2.4 m (8 ft) CEP (Circular Error Probable). The AGM-158A is also equipped with a data link to transmit status and location information until impact to assist bomb damage assessment.

In addition to carrying one JASSM each, both B-1B Lancers used in the White Sands demonstration carried 28 MK-82 500-pound free-fall, general purpose “dumb” bombs, one GBU-38 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM GPS-guided bomb), one GBU-31 2,000-pound JDAM, and an MK-84 2,000-pound general purpose “dumb” bomb. Prior to the White Sands demonstration, the B-1B and 337th TES accomplished another first June 21 when a Lancer over the Gulf of Mexico dropped a Cluster Bomb Unit-105 wind corrected munitions dispenser (WCMD) on a moving maritime target in support of Sinking Exercise East.

These missions’ success was made possible by the final testing of new offensive avionics software designated as Sustainment Block 10. An enhanced version of the Lancer’s flight software, SB-10 provides advanced weapons patterning capability and the ability to load more than one type of weapon in each of the B-1’s three weapons bays.

In the past, a set of target coordinates had to be entered for every guided weapon prior to release, but with SB-10 systems it’s possible to specify the number of weapons in a linear or circular spacing around a single set of coordinates, greatly improving the ability to strike a maneuvering target.

Officials said that once these upgrades are completed, the B-1B will have the largest JASSM capability in the Air Force with a maximum capacity of 24 missiles. Other platforms that are capable of carrying the JASSM are the vintage B-52 Stratofortress, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Other planes like the F-15E et. al. are also scheduled to receive JASSM integration in future. Story link.

The Ejection Site

The Rockwell B-1B Lancer is equipped with this version of the ACES II. The four crew stations in the B-1B are equipped with this seat as opposed to the crew module used in the B-1A aircraft. This version differs from the rest of the basic side-pull ACES II seats due to the addition of the armrests and limb restraint system. The B-1B is equipped with a sequencing system to eject the entire crew. The sequencing system can be selected by any of the crewman by means of an AUTO/MANUAL switch at each station. In AUTO acutation by one of the crew will fire all the ejection seats rapidly in sequence designed to prevent collisions between the seats. This is designed to take 2 seconds for all four crew members. AUTO is used most of the time, especially during take-off, landing and terrain following. When MANUAL is used, normally the pilot would announce ejection and the crew members would eject themselves manually one by one with a delay between each to minimize the potential collisions between the four seats, four hatches and the four crewmen.

This particular one is in the collection of Chris Woodul, and has been restored. It was a sled test seat and had suffered damage upon impact. Although originally fitted with them this seat differs from the production seat in the lack of the arm restraint brackets.

The B-1A prototype fleet was equipped with a crew escape module akin to the F-111 escape system. This very large system encompassed the entire cockpit area for the four man crew and was roughly the size of a mini-van. It was eliminated when the B-1 project was restored due to concerns about servicing the pyrotechical componants of the system.

Rule 901. Authenticating or Identifying Evidence

(a) In General. To satisfy the requirement of authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.

(b) Examples. The following are examples only — not a complete list — of evidence that satisfies the requirement:

(1) Testimony of a Witness with Knowledge. Testimony that an item is what it is claimed to be.

(2) Nonexpert Opinion About Handwriting. A nonexpert’s opinion that handwriting is genuine, based on a familiarity with it that was not acquired for the current litigation.

(3) Comparison by an Expert Witness or the Trier of Fact. A comparison with an authenticated specimen by an expert witness or the trier of fact.

(4) Distinctive Characteristics and the Like. The appearance, contents, substance, internal patterns, or other distinctive characteristics of the item, taken together with all the circumstances.

(5) Opinion About a Voice. An opinion identifying a person’s voice — whether heard firsthand or through mechanical or electronic transmission or recording — based on hearing the voice at any time under circumstances that connect it with the alleged speaker.

(6) Evidence About a Telephone Conversation. For a telephone conversation, evidence that a call was made to the number assigned at the time to:

(A) a particular person, if circumstances, including self-identification, show that the person answering was the one called or

(B) a particular business, if the call was made to a business and the call related to business reasonably transacted over the telephone.

(7) Evidence About Public Records. Evidence that:

(A) a document was recorded or filed in a public office as authorized by law or

(B) a purported public record or statement is from the office where items of this kind are kept.

(8) Evidence About Ancient Documents or Data Compilations. For a document or data compilation, evidence that it:

(A) is in a condition that creates no suspicion about its authenticity

(B) was in a place where, if authentic, it would likely be and

(C) is at least 20 years old when offered.

(9) Evidence About a Process or System. Evidence describing a process or system and showing that it produces an accurate result.

(10) Methods Provided by a Statute or Rule. Any method of authentication or identification allowed by a federal statute or a rule prescribed by the Supreme Court.


(Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1943 Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules

Subdivision (a). Authentication and identification represent a special aspect of relevancy. Michael and Adler, Real Proof, 5 Vand.L.Rev. 344, 362 (1952) McCormick §§179, 185 Morgan, Basic Problems of Evidence 378. (1962). Thus a telephone conversation may be irrelevant because on an unrelated topic or because the speaker is not identified. The latter aspect is the one here involved. Wigmore describes the need for authentication as “an inherent logical necessity.” 7 Wigmore §2129, p. 564.

This requirement of showing authenticity or identity fails in the category of relevancy dependent upon fulfillment of a condition of fact and is governed by the procedure set forth in Rule 104(b).

The common law approach to authentication of documents has been criticized as an “attitude of agnosticism,” McCormick, Cases on Evidence 388, n. 4 (3rd ed. 1956), as one which “departs sharply from men's customs in ordinary affairs,” and as presenting only a slight obstacle to the introduction of forgeries in comparison to the time and expense devoted to proving genuine writings which correctly show their origin on their face, McCormick §185, pp. 395, 396. Today, such available procedures as requests to admit and pretrial conference afford the means of eliminating much of the need for authentication or identification. Also, significant inroads upon the traditional insistence on authentication and identification have been made by accepting as at least prima facie genuine items of the kind treated in Rule 902, infra. However, the need for suitable methods of proof still remains, since criminal cases pose their own obstacles to the use of preliminary procedures, unforeseen contingencies may arise, and cases of genuine controversy will still occur.

Subdivision (b). The treatment of authentication and identification draws largely upon the experience embodied in the common law and in statutes to furnish illustrative applications of the general principle set forth in subdivision (a). The examples are not intended as an exclusive enumeration of allowable methods but are meant to guide and suggest, leaving room for growth and development in this area of the law.

The examples relate for the most part to documents, with some attention given to voice communications and computer print-outs. As Wigmore noted, no special rules have been developed for authenticating chattels. Wigmore, Code of Evidence §2086 (3rd ed. 1942).

It should be observed that compliance with requirements of authentication or identification by no means assures admission of an item into evidence, as other bars, hearsay for example, may remain.

Example (1). Example (1) contemplates a broad spectrum ranging from testimony of a witness who was present at the signing of a document to testimony establishing narcotics as taken from an accused and accounting for custody through the period until trial, including laboratory analysis. See California Evidence Code §1413, eyewitness to signing.

Example (2). Example (2) states conventional doctrine as to lay identification of handwriting, which recognizes that a sufficient familiarity with the handwriting of another person may be acquired by seeing him write, by exchanging correspondence, or by other means, to afford a basis for identifying it on subsequent occasions. McCormick §189. See also California Evidence Code §1416. Testimony based upon familiarity acquired for purposes of the litigation is reserved to the expert under the example which follows.

Example (3). The history of common law restrictions upon the technique of proving or disproving the genuineness of a disputed specimen of handwriting through comparison with a genuine specimen, by either the testimony of expert witnesses or direct viewing by the triers themselves, is detailed in 7 Wigmore §§1991–1994. In breaking away, the English Common Law Procedure Act of 1854, 17 and 18 Viet., c. 125, §27, cautiously allowed expert or trier to use exemplars “proved to the satisfaction of the judge to be genuine” for purposes of comparison. The language found its way into numerous statutes in this country, e.g., California Evidence Code §§1417, 1418. While explainable as a measure of prudence in the process of breaking with precedent in the handwriting situation, the reservation to the judge of the question of the genuineness of exemplars and the imposition of an unusually high standard of persuasion are at variance with the general treatment of relevancy which depends upon fulfillment of a condition of fact. Rule 104(b). No similar attitude is found in other comparison situations, e.g., ballistics comparison by jury, as in Evans v. Commonwealth, 230 Ky. 411, 19 S.W.2d 1091 (1929), or by experts, Annot. 26 A.L.R.2d 892, and no reason appears for its continued existence in handwriting cases. Consequently Example (3) sets no higher standard for handwriting specimens and treats all comparison situations alike, to be governed by Rule 104(b). This approach is consistent with 28 U.S.C. §1731: “The admitted or proved handwriting of any person shall be admissible, for purposes of comparison, to determine genuineness of other handwriting attributed to such person.”

Precedent supports the acceptance of visual comparison as sufficiently satisfying preliminary authentication requirements for admission in evidence. Brandon v. Collins, 267 F.2d 731 (2d Cir. 1959) Wausau Sulphate Fibre Co. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 61 F.2d 879 (7th Cir. 1932) Desimone v. United States, 227 F.2d 864 (9th Cir. 1955).

Example (4). The characteristics of the offered item itself, considered in the light of circumstances, afford authentication techniques in great variety. Thus a document or telephone conversation may be shown to have emanated from a particular person by virtue of its disclosing knowledge of facts known peculiarly to him Globe Automatic Sprinkler Co. v. Braniff, 89 Okl. 105, 214 P. 127 (1923) California Evidence Code §1421 similarly, a letter may be authenticated by content and circumstances indicating it was in reply to a duly authenticated one. McCormick §192 California Evidence Code §1420. Language patterns may indicate authenticity or its opposite. Magnuson v. State, 187 Wis. 122, 203 N.W. 749 (1925) Arens and Meadow, Psycholinguistics and the Confession Dilemma, 56 Colum.L.Rev. 19 (1956).

Example (5). Since aural voice identification is not a subject of expert testimony, the requisite familiarity may be acquired either before or after the particular speaking which is the subject of the identification, in this respect resembling visual identification of a person rather than identification of handwriting. Cf. Example (2), supra, People v. Nichols, 378 Ill. 487, 38 N.E.2d 766 (1942) McGuire v. State, 200 Md. 601, 92 A.2d 582 (1952) State v. McGee, 336 Mo. 1082, 83 S.W.2d 98 (1935).

Example (6). The cases are in agreement that a mere assertion of his identity by a person talking on the telephone is not sufficient evidence of the authenticity of the conversation and that additional evidence of his identity is required. The additional evidence need not fall in any set pattern. Thus the content of his statements or the reply technique, under Example (4), supra, or voice identification under Example (5), may furnish the necessary foundation. Outgoing calls made by the witness involve additional factors bearing upon authenticity. The calling of a number assigned by the telephone company reasonably supports the assumption that the listing is correct and that the number is the one reached. If the number is that of a place of business, the mass of authority allows an ensuing conversation if it relates to business reasonably transacted over the telephone, on the theory that the maintenance of the telephone connection is an invitation to do business without further identification. Matton v. Hoover Co., 350 Mo. 506, 166 S.W.2d 557 (1942) City of Pawhuska v. Crutchfield, 147 Okl. 4. 293 P. 1095 (1930) Zurich General Acc. & Liability Ins. Co. v. Baum, 159 Va. 404, 165 S.E. 518 (1932). Otherwise, some additional circumstance of identification of the speaker is required. The authorities divide on the question whether the self-identifying statement of the person answering suffices. Example (6) answers in the affirmative on the assumption that usual conduct respecting telephone calls furnish adequate assurances of regularity, bearing in mind that the entire matter is open to exploration before the trier of fact. In general, see McCormick §193 7 Wigmore §2155 Annot., 71 A.L.R. 5, 105 id. 326.

Example (7). Public records are regularly authenticated by proof of custody, without more. McCormick §191 7 Wigmore §§2158, 2159. The example extends the principle to include data stored in computers and similar methods, of which increasing use in the public records area may be expected. See California Evidence Code §§1532, 1600.

Example (8). The familiar ancient document rule of the common law is extended to include data stored electronically or by other similar means. Since the importance of appearance diminishes in this situation, the importance of custody or place where found increases correspondingly. This expansion is necessary in view of the widespread use of methods of storing data in forms other than conventional written records.

Any time period selected is bound to be arbitrary. The common law period of 30 years is here reduced to 20 years, with some shift of emphasis from the probable unavailability of witnesses to the unlikeliness of a still viable fraud after the lapse of time. The shorter period is specified in the English Evidence Act of 1938, 1 & 2 Geo. 6, c. 28, and in Oregon R.S. 1963, §41.360(34). See also the numerous statutes prescribing periods of less than 30 years in the case of recorded documents. 7 Wigmore §2143.

The application of Example (8) is not subject to any limitation to title documents or to any requirement that possession, in the case of a title document, has been consistent with the document. See McCormick §190.

Example (9). Example (9) is designed for situations in which the accuracy of a result is dependent upon a process or system which produces it. X-rays afford a familiar instance. Among more recent developments is the computer, as to which see Transport Indemnity Co. v. Seib, 178 Neb. 253, 132 N.W.2d 871 (1965) State v. Veres, 7 Ariz.App. 117, 436 P.2d 629 (1968) Merrick v. United States Rubber Co., 7 Ariz.App. 433, 440 P.2d 314 (1968) Freed, Computer Print-Outs as Evidence, 16 Am.Jur. Proof of Facts 273 Symposium, Law and Computers in the Mid-Sixties, ALI-ABA (1966) 37 Albany L.Rev. 61 (1967). Example (9) does not, of course, foreclose taking judicial notice of the accuracy of the process or system.

Example (10). The example makes clear that methods of authentication provided by Act of Congress and by the Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure or by Bankruptcy Rules are not intended to be superseded. Illustrative are the provisions for authentication of official records in Civil Procedure Rule 44 and Criminal Procedure Rule 27, for authentication of records of proceedings by court reporters in 28 U.S.C. §753(b) and Civil Procedure Rule 80(c), and for authentication of depositions in Civil Procedure Rule 30(f).

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

The language of Rule 901 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) chief Gen. Timothy Ray told Air Force Magazine that he wants to have a squadron of modified B-1B bombers that can carry the AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic missile on external hardpoints.

Ray said he sees a conventional version of the Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) weapon as a sensible approach to replacing the conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) if a weapon with longer range than the JASSM-ER is required.

The B-1B has eight external hardpoints that were designed to carry the AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). These hardpoints were covered up except for one on the port side for the Sniper pod.

Ray, in an interview that will appear in the May issue of Air Force Magazine, said he wants to refurbish and modernize the remaining B-1B aircraft after the Air Force retires 17 airframes from the fleet.

“My goal would be to bring on at least a squadron’s worth of airplanes modified with external pylons on the B-1, to carry the ARRW hypersonic cruise missile,” Ray was quoted as saying.

A B-1 squadron typically has 18 aircraft.

An expanded carriage demonstration on the B-1B was carried out by the 412th Test Wing last year. Maintainers were able to separate the bulkhead of the front and intermediate weapons bay to create one bay long enough to carry hypersonic weapons.

Modifying the B-1s to carry the ARRW was not an item requested in the fiscal 2021 budget, Ray said, but it’s “a project we’re working on. There are several versions that we could contemplate, but we believe the easiest, fastest, and probably most effective in the short term will be to go with the external pylons.” The ARRW, he said, is “a good weapon airframe and configuration match to get us quickly into that game.”

Asked if AFGSC’s preference is for ARRW versus other hypersonic missiles, Ray said, “I think we’re going to commit to the ARRW, because I think our carriage capability is good for that.”

He added that the B-1B test fleet at Edwards Air Force Base will be increased from two to eight aircraft to take some of the “load off the B-52” in hypersonic missile testing.

For the first time ever, a B-1 Lancer strategic bomber landed in the Arctic circle.

According to the US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Facebook page, during the flight, the B-1 provided critical support to Norwegian and Swedish joint terminal attack control training.

Additionally, the B-1 conducted a “warm-pit refuel” at Bodo Air Force Station, Norway, during which the crew stayed in the cockpit while the B-1 received fuel so that it could return to the mission more rapidly.

The B-1 also integrated with four Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft.

Two B-1s and aircrew assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS) were deployed to Europe on Mar. 3, 2021 to conducta Bomber Task Force (BTF) Europe mission, codenamed Bone Saw.

During Bone Saw, the 9th EBS integrated with multiple nations over the North and Baltic Seas.

Bomber missions provide aircrew opportunities to train and work with ally and partner forces in joint and coalition operations and exercises.

A large part of this mission and the BTF is showcasing US commitment to NATO. In this case, the 9th EBS did so by integrating with ally fighters in and around the North and Baltic Seas.

The B-1 Lancer is a swing-wing bomber intended for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions. Carrying the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory, the multi-mission B-1 is the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force. It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.

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.

Attend Your Visa Interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. The consular officer will inform you if this required.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you. Review the visa processing times to learn more.

B-1 'Lancer' Side View 1 of 2 - History

The B-1B design includes variable-geometry wings and is designed to evade enemy radar by flying low altitude at near-sonic or supersonic speeds. The B-1 was one of the first aircraft designed with serious thought and effort put into its stealth characteristics. With its buried engines, curved body, and radar-absorbant materials, the B-1B has a radar cross-section less than 1/100th that of the B-52.

The B-1B was originally built as a nuclear-armed replacement for the B-52. In this capacity, the plane's three bomb bays were compatible with SRAM and ALCM nuclear missiles as well as free-fall nuclear bombs. Under the terms of the Stategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the US and Russia, however, the B-1B is no longer capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The Lancer has instead been re-equipped as a conventional bomber to operate alongside the B-52H Stratofortress.

Compatibility with a wide array of conventional missiles and bombs has been developed under the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program. Early phases of this effort gave the B-1B the ability to carry a large payload of Mk 82 500-lb or Mk 84 1,000-lb unguided bombs, cluster munitions, and the GPS-guided GBU-31 JDAM. Later upgrades have further added compatibility with the latest generation of precision guided weapons such as the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD), Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM).

A total of 100 examples of the B-1B were originally built, but about a third of the fleet was retired in 2003 as a cost-saving measure. By 2004, 67 aircraft were in service with the Air Force while those operated by the Air National Guard had been retired. The remaining fleet continues to receive upgrades to improve reliability including new avionics, radar enhancements, communications system updates to support data links, cockpit modifications, and integration of a targeting pod. The upgraded B-1B fleet will probably continue in service until around 2025.

Fire in Its 'Belly': The B-1 Lancer Bomber Is Getting Supersize Upgrades

The bomber can't be enlarged, but efforts are underway to "supersize" its carriage capabilities.

Here's What You Need to Know: The U.S. Air Force still expects to fly the B-1B into the early 2030s.

(This article first appeared in December 2020.)

The U.S. Air Force's B-1B Lancer bomber can't be enlarged, but efforts are now underway to "supersize" its carriage capabilities. Last month one of the Cold War-era bombers took part in an external captive carry flight over the skies of Edwards Air Force Base, and that demonstration could pave the way for the B-1B to carry hypersonic weapons externally.

The flight test involved a B-1B Lancer assigned to the 412th Test Wing's 419th Flight Test Squadron, Global Power Combined Test Force, during which the bomber carried an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) under an external pylon for the first time.

"Adapting a small number of our healthiest B-1s to carry hypersonic weapons is vital to bridge between the bomber force we have today, to the force of tomorrow," said Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. "This is a major step forward in our global precision fires capability and it is important we pursue these technologies to remain ahead of our competitors. My goal is to have a limited number of B-1s modified to become the roving linebacker of the western Pacific and the North Atlantic."

For the Air Force, the captive carry flight was the culmination of the numerous ground tests that began last year with an expanded carriage demonstration. It included a modified internal bomb bay, which featured a moveable bulkhead. Last month's test flight at Edwards Air Force Base further demonstrated a configuration of the B-1 that could allow the aircraft to carry larger-sized weapons both internally and externally.

"We're essentially displaying our external weapons carriage capability," added Maj. Bret Cunningham, a B-1B test pilot with the 419th FLTS. "We have a JASSM weapon on what is traditionally the targeting pod pylon on the forward right hard point, so we are demonstrating that the B-1 has the capability to carry weapons and employ them externally."

The B-1B, which was produced from 1983-1988, was designed with three internal weapons bays with an internal payload of 75,000 pounds, as well as with a movable bulkhead and usable external hardpoints for its original nuclear mission. The maximum external weapons payload could include an additional 59,000 pounds – however, the United States shifted the aircraft's mission to conventional weapons in 1994. That physical conversion to conventional-only armaments started in 2007 with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and the modifications were completed in 2011.

Adapting the Old War Bird

The recent extensive engineering review could now help the Air Force understand where it needs to focus to maintain the aging warbird as a multi-mission weapon system, which could lay the groundwork for the integration of future weapons on the aircraft.

The Air Force still expects the B-1B to fly off in the sunset, or at least be retired from service by the early 2030s, but it needs the aging bomber to remain operational for current threats. It could still be sometime before its replacement, the B-21 Raider, is fully operational. In the meantime, the B-1B continues to be updated and adapted for the changing geopolitical situation.

The current expanded carriage demonstration will thus be able to keep the aircraft compliant with the New START agreement, which means the B-1 can still be utilized to deliver convention weapons. The proposed increase in capacity with the external carriage could also be a force multiplier of sorts as two bombers would equal three bombers worth of weapons.

"Since the long-bay demo last year, this has really been our key focus point in 2020 getting ready for this external weapons-release demo as kind of the next step in that progression towards external weapons carriage and hypersonic capabilities for the B-1," Cunningham said. "We're pretty close to the culmination of this demo event and reaching that next milestone."

Following the recent captive carry mission, engineers will review the data before moving on to the next phase of testing, which will be an external weapons release.

"For us, we're looking to do this safely since this is the first time we will release a weapon from the external hard point in over 30 years," said Agustin Martinez, project test lead. "So, we focused on doing a safe build-up approach … to make sure the JASSM and the B-1 are communicating correctly the JASSM has correct surface deployment timelines. Once it does get released, it will safely separate."

The U.S. Air Force has continued to keep its B-1B bomber fleet updated and upgraded. In September, an eight-year-long project to install the Integrated Battle Station (IBS) on the bombers was completed ahead of schedule. A total of sixty of the late Cold War-era aircraft went through the modification process, which began in late 2012. It was reported to be the largest and most complicated modification performed to date on the B-1 and it gave the flight deck a completely new look.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear, including A Gallery of Military Headdress.

Watch the video: Rockwell B-1 Lancer. Альтернатива B-52 (July 2022).


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