File photo – A U.S. B-1 bomber flies over the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the province of Sanliurfa, after a bombing raid on Nov. 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
The air force is assigning a two-fold future path for its B-1 bomber aircraft that includes plans to upgrade the bomber, while at the same time, the preparation of the aircraft for a possible retirement if the new stealth bomber is coming in the next few years.
These two pathways, which appear as something of a paradox, or contradiction, are actually intertwined efforts, designed to maximize the bomber’s firepower while the easing of a possible transition to the new B-21 bomber, Air Force officials told Warrior Maven.
“As soon as a sufficient number of the B-21 aircraft operational, the B-1s will be gradually retired. No exact dates are determined,” Maj. Emily Grabowski, Air Force spokeswoman, told the Warrior Maven. “The air force performs routine structural inspections, tests and repairs necessary to ensure the platform remains operational feasible until there are sufficient numbers of B-21s are operational.”
The B-21 is expected to occur by mid-2020, so while the air force has not specified timetable, the B-1 is probably not fully retire until the 2030s.
Service officials say that the current technical revision is the largest in the history of the B-1, giving the aircraft an extended weapons capability together with the new electronic, communication technology and engines.
The engines are overhauled, and maintain their original performance specs, and the B-1 is the obtaining of new targeting and intelligence systems, Grabowski said.
A new Integrated Battle Station, the new crew, displays, and communication links for in-flight data to share.
“This is also true for machine-to-machine interface for rapid re-tasking and/or a weapon retargeting,” Grabowski added.
Another upgrade is called The Fully Integrated Targeting Pod, which connects the targeting pod control and video inputs in the B-1 cockpit displays. The B-1 will also be able to the car capacity of 500-pound class weapons by 60 percent due to Bomb Rack Unit upgrades.
The B-1, which had the combat debut during Operation Desert Fox in 1998, went to drop thousands of JDAMs during the multi-year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The B-1 can hit speeds of MACH 1.25 at 40,000 feet, and operates at a maximum of 60,000 feet.
The burning of a wide variety of bombs, to include several JDAMS: GBU-31, GBU-38 and GBU-54. It also fires the small diameter bomb-GBU-39.
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