B1-B Lancer pilots often say that not enough people know how big and important the bombing missions the plane has been on are. Its 1998 combat debut over Iraq during Operation Desert Fox seems to have overshadowed the bomber’s success against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The B1-B used precision weapons and glider bombs to strike sites during Operation Enduring Freedom when it was known for certain that only Taliban troops would be present and no civilians.
According to a fascinating post on Globalsecurity.org, despite having a very small fleet, the B1-B flew a very high percentage of the missions in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
B1-B: Aging Bomber at full steam
Although the fleet of 92 B1-B bombers has only been on combat duty for 20 years, the question of when they will be entirely retired has already arisen as an important part of the Air Force’s strategy for its future bomber fleet.
The B1-B lancer and other legacy aircraft have undergone several substantial changes, including adapting their weapons compartment to accommodate hypersonic weaponry.
The bomber’s capacity to carry weapons of up to 500 pounds has been increased by up to 60 percent thanks to the installation of a new Bomb Rack Unit as part of this weaponry upgrade. Its internal weapons compartment can now carry 40 bombs, up from 24.
The B1-B’s navigation and intelligence-gathering capabilities have been upgraded with the addition of the Integrated Battle Station and a new Integrated Targeting Pod.
These technologies allow intelligence and targeting to be updated in flight and pilots to update navigation information more quickly as the combat environment changes.
These upgrades will improve the bomb-dropping and strike capabilities of the aircraft, which can fly up to 60,000 feet, fly at speeds greater than Mach 1.25, and drop GBU-31, GBU-38, GBU-39, and the bomb Small diameter GBU-54.
The horizon for the B1-B
Despite these upgrades, some may wonder when the aircraft would become obsolete, considering its non-stealth configuration was developed decades ago.
These upgrades can vastly improve the aircraft’s functionality, success, and operational performance going forward, but the Air Force will likely have to answer many critical questions about the bomber fleet.
The expected arrival of large numbers of new B-21 aircraft and the continued and much-improved service of the B-52 and B-2 bombers is probably why the Air Force is planning a phased “retirement” of the B1. -B.
This means that, as the B-21s arrive, the service will progressively divest from the B1-Bs. However, parts of the modernized aircraft will likely remain in service for years as the service tries to maintain optimal fleet readiness and configuration.
Lastly, as a capable bomber and, above all, as a potential hypersonic weapons carrier, the B1-B is likely not going anywhere anytime soon, especially considering that it will be many years before significant numbers of new Bs arrive. -twenty-one.