The USAF's B-1B Lancer strategic bomber fleet is set for a major systems upgrade after a new contract placed with Boeing at the start of July 2011.
The contract, with a value of $99.5m, will see each B-1B intercontinental bomber get updated cockpit avionics and other features. Specifically, the B-1Bs' forward cockpit vertical situation display unit will be modernised and the same goes for the aft cockpit's test system and integrated data link.
Consequently, a rolling B-1B update programme will be launched in late 2012 and last until 2019.
B-1B Systems Upgrades
All B-1B systems upgrades will be implemented at the same time, creating what Boeing refers to as an ‘Integrated Battle Station'.
Currently, B-1B forward cockpits boast a pair of monochromatic displays for both the pilot and the co-pilot. Now, they're set to lose these and, in their place, receive four colour displays, with multi-functionality. Colour display features will also be introduced to the rear cockpit and this will act as a safety feature, with the test system performing ongoing aircraft performance assessments.
USAF Lancer Bomber Upgrades
"The Integrated Battle Station upgrades will provide B-1 bomber aircrews with a higher level of situational awareness and a faster secure digital communication link", Boeing's B-1B program director, Rick Greenwell, explained in a company press release on the USAF Lancer bomber upgrades issued on 6th July.
"This will enable the aircrews to perform at an even more effective level and will make the B-1 cockpit more reliable and supportable. Combining the separate upgrades into one production kit will enable us to deliver a more affordable upgraded aircraft to our customer in a timelier manner."
The B-1B Lancer serves alongside the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress, creating a three-pronged USAF strategic bomber force. Introduced in 1986, it features swing wings and has a range of almost 12,000 kilometres. It has a top speed of Mach 1.25 and its bomb load can include MK-84 general purpose bombs, JDAM guided bombs and AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Munitions.
Image copyright USAF
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