|Carrying the largest 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's blended wing/body configuration, variable-geometry wings and
turbofan afterburning engines, combine to provide long range,
maneuverability and high speed while enhancing survivability. Forward
wing settings are used for takeoff, landings, air refueling and in some
high-altitude weapons employment scenarios. Aft wing sweep settings -
the main combat configuration -- are typically used during high
subsonic and supersonic flight, enhancing the B-1B's maneuverability in
the low- and high-altitude regimes. The B-1B's speed and superior
handling characteristics allow it to seamlessly integrate in mixed
force packages. These capabilities, when combined with its substantial
payload, excellent radar targeting system, long loiter time and
survivability, make the B-1B a key element of any joint/composite
strike force. The B-1 weapon system is capable of creating a multitude
of far-reaching effects across the battlefield.
The B-1 is a highly versatile, multi-mission weapon system. The B-1B's
offensive avionics system includes high-resolution synthetic aperture
radar, capable of tracking, targeting and engaging moving vehicles as
well as self-targeting and terrain-following modes. In addition, an
extremely accurate Global Positioning System-aided Inertial Navigation
System enable aircrews to autonomously navigate globally, without the
aid of ground-based navigation aids as well as engage targets with a
high level of precision. The recent addition of Combat Track II radios
permit an interim secure beyond line of sight reach back connectivity
until Link-16 is integrated on the aircraft. In a time sensitive
targeting environment, the aircrew can receive targeting data from the
Combined Air Operations Center over CT II, then update mission data in
the offensive avionics system to strike emerging targets rapidly and
efficiently. This capability was effectively demonstrated during
operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
The B-1B's self-protection electronic jamming equipment, radar warning
receiver (ALQ-161) and expendable countermeasures (chaff and flare)
system complements its low-radar cross-section to form an integrated,
robust onboard defense system that supports penetration of hostile
airspace. The ALQ-161 electronic countermeasures system detects and
identifies the full spectrum of adversary threat emitters then applies
the appropriate jamming technique either automatically or through
operator manual inputs. Chaff and flares are employed against radar and
infrared threat systems.
B-1 capabilities are being enhanced through the completion of the
Conventional Mission Upgrade Program. This program has already improved
lethality by adding the ability to carry up to 30 cluster munitions
(CBU-87, -89, -97), a Global Positioning System receiver, an improved
weapons interface that allows the carriage of Joint Direct Attack
Munitions guided weapons and advanced secure radios (ARC-210).
Survivability is enhanced through the addition of the ALE-50 Towed
Decoy System which decoys advanced radar guided surface-to-air and
air-to-air missile systems.
The CMUP adds improved avionics computers which allow the employment of
additional advanced guided precision and non-precision weapons: 30
Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (CBU-103, -104, -105 WCMD), 12
AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapons or 24 AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface
Standoff Missile. The B-1 will be able to carry and employ any mix of
these weapons (a different type of weapon in each of the three weapons
bays). The B-1 will also be the first platform to carry the extended
range version of the JASSM. These modifications significantly increase
B-1 combat capability.
Future planned modifications build on this foundation provided by the
new avionics computers. Radar sustainability and capability upgrades
will provide a more reliable system in addition to an ultra
high-resolution capability that may include automatic target
recognition features. The addition of Link-16 will allow the B-1 to
operate in the integrated battlefield of the future. Cockpit
modifications will relieve reliability problems and increase aircrew
situational awareness and provide an integrated flow of information.
The B-1A was initially developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the
B-52. Four prototypes of this long-range, high speed (Mach 2.2)
strategic bomber were developed and tested in the mid-1970s, but the
program was canceled in 1977 before going into production. Flight
testing continued through 1981.
The B-1B is an improved variant initiated by the Reagan administration
in 1981. Major changes included the addition of additional structure to
increase payload by 74,000 pounds, an improved radar and reduction of
the radar cross section by an order of magnitude. The inlet was
extensively modified as part of this RCS reduction, necessitating a
reduction in maximum speed to Mach 1.2.
The first production B-1 flew in October 1984, and the first B-1B was
delivered to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1985. Initial
operational capability was achieved on Oct. 1, 1986. The final B-1B was
delivered May 2, 1988.
The B-1B holds almost 50 world records for speed, payload, range, and
time of climb in its class. The National Aeronautic Association
recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record
flights for 1994. The most recent records were made official in 2004.
The B-1B was first used in combat in support of operations against Iraq
during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. In 1999, six B-1s were
used in Operation Allied Force, delivering more than 20 percent of the
total ordnance while flying less than 2 percent of the combat sorties.
Eight B-1s were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. B-1s
dropped nearly 40 percent of the total tonnage during the first six
months of OEF. This included nearly 3,900 JDAMs, or 67 percent of the
total. All of this was accomplished while maintaining an impressive 79
percent mission capable rate.