Military News

Monday, March 09, 2015

Why COCOMs continue calling upon the B-1B Lancer

by 2nd Lt. Lauren Linscott
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/9/2015 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With each technological advancement in armament, the B-1B Lancer asserts itself yet again as a pinnacle in combat airpower.

On Dec. 2, 2014, the Department of Defense declared the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range for the B-1 to be an initial operational capability, signaling the JASSM-ER is ready for real-world combat operations.

The JASSM-ER more than doubles the range of the original JASSM and encompasses all of the same features. The JASSM is able to distinguish between targets and bystanders, fly a varied path after deployment, and penetrate well-fortified or buried infrastructure, which makes it one of the smartest, most precise armament the Air Force has to offer. Now that the JASSM can be delivered at an even greater range from the target, the missile better protects the aircraft and crew delivering this weaponry, as well as other aircraft in the strike package.

While the JASSM has been approved for the B-52 Stratofortress, F-15E Strike Eagle, and F-16 Fighting Falcon, the B-1 is the only airframe to have the JASSM-ER in the initial operational capability phase this soon after its introduction to the DOD.

The B-1 not only adapts new weaponry and technological advancements, its inherent design makes it an extraordinarily flexible aircraft.  Due to the bomber's swept-wing configuration, it has the ability to perform at a variety of altitudes and can reduce its overall drag and conserve fuel better than any of its bomber counterparts.  This allows the Lancer's range to extend across continents or stay above an area of interest for hours. The bomber can also achieve speeds of over 900 mph thanks to its afterburning engines. 

The B-1 also brings range to reach targets; persistence to keep sensors on a target for hours at a time; and speed for quick responses across large distances.

While the Lancer is a capable aircraft in its own right, it can be fully integrated in the fifth generation aircraft environment of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, as well.

"The B-1 fights side-by-side with fighter platforms as the main strike platform during exercises in medium and high-threat scenarios," said Col. Jason Combs, 7th Operations Group commander. "Although the B-1 often employs as part of an integrated strike package, it also has the sensors and range to find, track, and strike targets independently.

"The range of the B-1 and ability to work closely with ground forces are a large part of the reason the combatant commands requested the B-1 at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and why it continues to be used today and into the foreseeable future."

The abilities of the B-1 are even more apparent after the latest six-month deployment of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Dyess in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, and Operation Inherent Resolve. In previous deployments, the bomber dropped anywhere from less than 100 Joint Direct Attack Munitions to a high of about 500 JDAMs. During this deployment, though, the 9th BS released more than 2,000 JDAMs in support of multiple areas of responsibility.

"Though the threat has evolved over time, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the B-1 can adapt to those changes," Combs said. "Not only does its performance in overseas operations demonstrate its lethality but also its survivability is continually validated in demanding joint force exercises."

While the declaration of the JASSM-ER to be IOC is the latest accomplishment in technological advancement for the B-1, it is not the last advancement the aircraft will experience. As overseas contingency operations continue, and new threats to U.S. national security emerge, the long-range strike bomber will serve as a primary platform for progress due to its ability to adapt to its environment, fight in conjunction with other aircraft, and accept new weapons easily.

When the nation calls, the B-1 will continue to be the aircraft depended upon to deliver death from above.

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