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TechnologyThe B-1B Bomber Could Bulk Up on Long-Range Weapons

23:40  11 september  2019
23:40  11 september  2019 Source:   popularmechanics.com

How Makers of the B-21 Are Learning Lessons From the B-2 Bomber

How Makers of the B-21 Are Learning Lessons From the B-2 Bomber Because Northrop and the U.S. Air Force can’t afford the same mistakes twice.

The B-1B Bomber Could Bulk Up on Long-Range Weapons© Larry Marano - Getty Images As strategic competition with Russia and China increases, the Air Force wants to max out the B-1B’s ability to carry larger and more advanced weapons.
  • New upgrades could allow the B-1B bomber to carry 40 more missiles, up from the present 24.
  • The upgrades would also allow the bomber to carry a hypersonic weapon.
  • While an improvement, only 7 B-1B bombers are currently ready for action.

As strategic competition with Russia and China increases, the Air Force wants to max out the B-1B’s ability to carry not just more, but larger and more advanced weapons. According to FlightGlobal, the Air Force recently showed off an upgraded B-1B to partners in industry.

Fewer Than Ten U.S. B-1 Bombers Are Fully Ready for Action

Fewer Than Ten U.S. B-1 Bombers Are Fully Ready for Action A lack of resources has grounded scores of the big bombers. Air Force Times, which broke the news, reports that the number of fully capable B-1Bs is currently in the “single digits.” According to June 2019 issue of Air Force Magazine, the service is supposed to have 62 B-1Bs in operation. The problem is so bad that B-1 air crews are being temporarily assigned to other airframes. A number of issues are likely involved. The B-1B fleet is reportedly not receiving the “resources and attention necessary” to keep the fleet going.

The bomber, belonging to the 412th Test Wing, includes an improved middle bomb bay expanded from 15 feet to nearly 22.5 feet. That’s large enough to carry a future hypersonic weapon. Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds of Mach 5 and above, giving enemy forces little time to react.

The second improvement involves carrying weapons externally. The B-1B was designed to carry nuclear-tipped Air Launched Cruise Missiles on external pylons, but doing so would have compromised the bomber’s stealthy design and the Air Force never trained with them. Now the service wants to resurrect that capability, giving the bomber the ability to carry 16 missiles on six external pylons.

A B-1B can already carry 24 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM), and an upgraded B-1B could carry 40 JASSMs. Two B-1Bs launched 19 JASSM missiles against chemical weapons facilities in Syria in April 2018. In the future, just two B-1Bs could launch up to 80 missiles. The B-1 fleet could likely carry an identical number of Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM), a new ship-killing missile based on the JASSM.

The B-52 Will Fly and Fight for 100 Years

  The B-52 Will Fly and Fight for 100 Years The 1960s-era bomber will fly into the 2050s, but not without a lot of help. The U.S. Air Force’s fleet of B-52H Stratofortress bombers is receiving vital upgrades that will keep the planes battle worthy into the 2050s. First flown in the early 1960s, the B-52H will see nearly a century of continuous service. The big bomber is getting new radars, communications equipment, and maybe even hypersonic weapons to keep it relevant to the battlefields of the future. The B-52H fleet, already nearly 60 years old, has been the recipient of a steady but slow stream of upgrades to keep the planes useful.

The B-1B Bomber Could Bulk Up on Long-Range Weapons© U.S. Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem The test B-1B with mockup JASSM missile mounted on an external pylon.

All of this sounds great, but the Air Force needs to overhaul the aging B-1B fleet and restore the bomber’s relevancy. Today, only seven of the service’s 62 B-1Bs are ready for action, with the rest grounded by a lack of funding, spare parts, and structural issues that invariably show up in aging bombers. If readiness remains in the single digits, it’s not worthwhile to fund these new upgrades. The Air Force plans to replace the B-1B with the new B-21 Raider bomber sometime in the late 2020s or early 2030s.

Source: FlightGlobal

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What Old Warplane Will Become the USAF's New 'Flying Arsenal'? .
The B-52? C-17? Or the stealthy B-1B? Whoever is the winner, the plane will become a flying magazine for fifth-generation fighters, such as the F-35. Stealth planes like the F-22 and F-35 can carry limited weapons loadouts.The Arsenal Plane will act like one big flying magazine.The Air Force wants to transform an existing aircraft in its inventory into the Arsenal Plane.The U.S. Air Force is carefully considering what plane is the best fit for its new Arsenal Plane concept.

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